Although Pepsi has been one of America's most beloved soft drinks for over a century, the company has had its share of gaffes. From the failed launch of Pepsi A.M, a breakfast soda drink, to the now defunct Pepsi Natural, a soda free of artificial colors and preservatives, Pepsi usually fails when it strays from its winning formula. Unfortunately for the soda giant, it's latest blunder is more than just a rejected soft drink flavor.
Earlier this week, Pepsi released an ad titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem” starring Kendall Jenner, which caused an uproar due to claims that it trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement. The YouTube spot, which debuted on Tuesday features attractive young demonstrators holding generic protest signs and stern-faced police officers. At the end of the commercial, Jenner grabs a can of Pepsi and marches through the crowd and hands the beverage to one of the cops. The cop pops open the can, takes a sip, and the crowd erupts into applause. Yes, it's just that simple. Why didn't we think of calling upon a supermodel to solve social injustice decades ago?
See the 5 Most-Tone Deaf Ads of All-Time Below!
Not surprisingly, the response to the trivializing ad has been fiercely negative. Director Joseph Kahn tweeted, "I've been studying commercials for 30 years. Kendall's Pepsi ad is legitimately the worst one I've ever seen." Comedian and political commentator John Fugelsang also took to Twitter writing, "Pepsi just made the commercial of the year for Coke."
In response to the public and media backlash, Pepsi pulled the ad and issued an apology on Wednesday stating: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
Pepsi's new commercial may be in poor taste, regardless of the company's intentions, but where does it rank amongst the most tone-deaf ads of recent memory? Check out our list below and decide for yourself.
5. Possibly Racist Gap Ad
Roughly one year ago today, Gap received a lot of heat for a print add, which many argued was racially insensitive. The photo, which featured four young girls from the trapeze group Le Petit Cirque, depicted a taller Caucasian girl propping her arm on the head of a smaller African American girl.
One person on Twitter wrote, “Proving girls can do anything... unless she’s Black,” wrote one user. “Then all she can do is bear the weight of White girls. #EpicFail.” Others gave Gap the benefit of the doubt writing, "Don't make race an issue and it won't be."
Gap quickly apologized and removed the photo from its website.
4. Yo Quiero Common Sense
More stupid than racist, Taco Bell made a snafu earlier this year when it released an ad that many accused of being racially insensitive. The "Naked Chicken Chalupa" ad shows a white man attempting to throw a Chalupa wrapper in the trash, but instead, hitting a black woman pushing a stroller.
Some called the ad racist, while others called for a Taco Bell boycott. The fast food chain pulled the original ad and released an edited version depicting the man throwing the wrapper directly in the trash.
Whether it was racially insensitive or not, if you have an ad featuring a white man throwing trash at or near a black woman, someone is bound to question it.
3. Date-Rapey Beer Ad
Pepsi isn't the only beverage maker to get in hot water over a tone-deaf ad. Lest we forget Bud Light's astonishingly awful #UpforWhatever campaign which featured the following tagline on a bottle of Bud: "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night."
The 2015 tagline, which appeared to condone sexual assault, resulted in a social media firestorm with one Twitter user writing, "Are you kidding me Bud Light? "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary"...? One word: rape. 3 words: get an education."
Bud Light quickly stopped printing the tagline on new bottles, although they did not pull existing bottles from shelves, and issued the following statement which read in part: "It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior. As a result, we have immediately ceased production of this message on all bottles.”
2. Yet Another Date-Rapey Ad
In 2015, high-end retailer Bloomingdale's took some serious heat for an ad in its holiday catalog that suggested date rape. Perhaps the ad maker had just listened to "Baby It's Cold Outside" when they captioned a photo of a man and woman with: "Spike your best friend's eggnog when they're not looking."
The retailer responded by issuing the following statement: "In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste."
It's worth noting that it is illegal in the U.S. to spike someone's drink, according to the Department of Justice. Way to go Bloomingdale's for promoting one of the most common sexual assault crimes in the country.
1. Selling Detergent with Racism
What happened to just showing a white t-shirt's s transformation from grass-stained to clean? In May 2016, Qiaobi, a Chinese brand of cleaning liquid, released a commercial which was equal parts racist and bizarre.
In the distasteful ad, a Chinese woman shoves a laundry detergent pod down a black man's throat, forces him into a washing machine, and he comes out of the wash transformed into a grinning Chinese man. Oh, I forgot to mention that we can hear the man's muffled screams while he's trapped in the washing machine.
Some of the other racially questionable ads on our list may be examples of passive racism or simply a lapse in good judgment, but there's no excusing this ad. What were they thinking?
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