This couldn’t have been a more explosive week for Pepsi if it had been besieged with Mentos.
On Tuesday, the soda company released a protest-themed commercial starring Kendall Jenner, which immediately attracted backlash on social media for cashing in on contemporary resistance movements by appropriating images of social and political unrest. Soon after the soda and supermodel were ripped on Twitter for the pseudo-woke ad, it was pulled, which provoked more reaction online.
Don’t be too bummed, though, Pepsi! You’re hardly the first enormous corporation to release an ill-conceived two-minute spot that was promptly devoured in a tweetstorm of fury. Here are six others that met a similar fate.
Pepsi isn’t even the first soda company whose “edgy” ads have backfired. Last year, Sprite’s #BrutallyRefreshing campaign in Ireland was called out for being brutally sexist.
You’re probably familiar with Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ads, which have cast Betty White as a dude playing football and Willem Dafoe as, um, Marilyn Monroe. This utterly tone-deaf iteration of the joke, however, imagines how a group of construction workers might not be themselves when they’re in need of a Snickers. The answer? They’re respectful to women, yelling sincere compliments and encouragements. It’s pretty pleasant, until that “you’re not you” slogan pops up at the end, and we’re reminded this is a totally wacky alternate reality and it’s completely antithetical to the very existence of construction workers that they would ever behave that way.
Bud Light’s “Up For Whatever” campaign intended to evoke a feeling of endless possibilities on a wild night out. But when beer bottles emblazoned with the catchphrase also called Bud Light “the perfect beer for removing no’ from your vocabulary for the night,” it played poorly into the hot-button issue of consent.
I39;ll be physically unable to process any sentiment that involves trying to convince me Bud Light didn’t know it was making a rape joke there- andrea grimes (@andreagrimes) April 28, 2015
In 2012, Reebok encouraged its customers to “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” It...didn’t go over well.
A grim 2013 U.K. Hyundai ad depicts a man carefully taping up the windows of his car then running it with the garage door closed. The great thing about the new Hyundai ix35, though, is its 100 percent water emissions output, so this imaginary Hyundai customer’s suicide attempt was thwarted! In addition to your run-of-the-mill Twitter outrage, this disturbing commercial inspired a heartbreaking open letter by writer Holly Brockwell, who lost her father the same way.
Just this week, Nivea came under fire for (and then pulled) its “White Is Purity” deodorant ads. You might think the skin care brand would have learned its lesson about racist advertising six years ago, when a stunningly offensive ad for its line of men’s products depicted a clean-shaven black man about to throw away the decapitated head of a black man with an afro and beard, accompanied by the slogan “re-civilize yourself.”
Nivea. Re-civilize yourself. 2011. pic.twitter.com/153vtRrZ4g- deray mckesson (@deray) January 13, 2015