Fighting for change takes courage.
Supporting minority rights is brave.
Defying the status quo call for boldness.
These are true for social justice issues, and ‘90s action movies.
Remember that scene from Desperado? – Antonio Banderas walking away from a huge explosion (killing an tyrannical drug lord and his gang) with Salma Hayek by his side (who helped him do it). They look like a total badasses, and for good reason. Now watch this Pepsi spot:
It’s like the whole commercial is Antonio walking… and us waiting for an explosion, or something! to justify the drama, the marching, and all the outraged millennials. We still don’t know what Pepsi was supporting, or was it fighting against? I want to be offended, but this level of ambiguity is almost impressive.
In a desperate attempt to be woke, Pepsi exploited every cultural trope and racial cliche they could think of. But a part of me is still fascinated. This might be my favorite crime against authenticity – all tattoos, no personality.
There’s the guy who buys a leather jacket, leases a Harley and pretends to be Sons of Anarchy around the neighborhood. Then, there’s the guy who wears a “I gave blood today” sticker, and lets people pat him on that back; when in reality, he’s scared of needles and hasn’t given blood since college when his girlfriend forced him to get an STD test.
In the spirit of authenticity, let’s be real; brands will always push manipulative, unfounded messaging that panders to consumers. But when they imply their support of ACTUAL problems (not fictional drug lords) it becomes offensive.
We all put on an act from time to time. But when you’re faking the funk, don’t pretend to be a fire alarm.