Update: May 4, 2013: Pepsi pulled the ad, but a segment of the ad is still available to view as of today here
Having a woman CEO hasn’t sensitized those at Pepsi making advertising decisions based on an ad pulled this week showing a hysterical blond, battered, white woman intimidated by a policeman who is drinking a Mountain Dew demanding that she pick her batterer out of a line up of African-American men and a goat.
Does Pepsi’s pulse on America really think the new edgy is taking half-a-dozen demeaning stereotypes, throwing them at the wall and not caring what sticks as long as you notice the can of soda?
The ad blunder for Mountain Dew is a reminder to companies that the definition of corporate social responsibility goes beyond the dollars they give to improve causes important to them. If they don’t link their influence in the world to how they sell products, their corporate responsibility becomes just veneer.
When every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is beaten or assaulted (the leading cause of injury to women), when a Georgia High School just had its first-ever integrated prom, when a Chicago Police Department is criticized for racial stereotyping and ”accidental racist” is too common……when rape in India — a four-year-old girl sexually assaulted died this week — continues to underscore attitudes toward women and girls — pandering to demeaning stereotypes in attempts at hip and wannabe amusing advertising betrays corporate responsibility.
USA Today illustrates recent advertising missteps that resulted in bad press and pulled ads: parodies of suicide (Hyundai zero emission cars) and depressed women (McDonald’s regional Big Mac ad) and Ford’s depiction of sexily-dressed women bound and gagged in the back of a Figo compact car — all tributes to bad judgment.
Hip is seductive– it crowns itself its own cool, evaporates in backlash and leaves corporate responsibility without much to say for itself.
Gael O’Brien May 2, 2013