An ad for Pepsi Max aired during the Super Bowl 2/6/11 has gotten a mention in a location other than the living rooms of America – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) took to the floor of the US House of Representatives to criticize the commercial, which she found “demeaning.”
The advertisement can be viewed below:
The 30-second piece features a black couple interacting together over incidents in which the male is going for calorie-laden consumables and the female is preventing their consumption.
Eventually, they are both drinking Pepsi Max while sitting on a park bench, a blonde jogger catch’s the male’s eye, the black female throws her can of Pepsi Max, the man ducks and the blond is hit.
“In this month of African-American history where we’re trying to celebrate what is good and great, it certainly seems ridiculous that Pepsi would utilize this kind of humor,” said Jackson Lee, according to a report in The Hill. “It was not humorous. It was demeaning — an African-American woman throwing something at an African-American male and winding up hitting a Caucasian woman.”
Jackson Lee added, “That is why I’m so disappointed with the Pepsi advertisement that showed a demeaning role for African American women, in an ad that showed a can being thrown and being utilized to wound someone else or hit someone else.”
Was Jackson Lee correct in sensing racial overtones in the commercial? One media figure who endorsed that view was radio’s Rush Limbaugh. According to a Mediaite report, Limbaugh said that was precisely why the ad worked. He called it “A homerun if you understand the demographics here.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We have been known to crack a joke in our little corner of the media world from time to time, and we are well aware that if you are not careful, you will offend somebody. If you write, “a blank walked up to a duck,” you can rest assured that somewhere out there, a person who identifies with blanks will be composing a letter of protest. There will probably also be a duck composing a letter.
The goal of a commercial is to move product, not to incite controversy. So creative types that stray into gray areas – and the Pepsi Max ad is getting enough negative buzz to suggest that it did – are taking their chances.
Personally, we will welcome the day when commercials no longer offend, no matter what the racial makeup of the cast. We have come a long way in our own lifetime on that count.
But we have also been around long enough to know that when that day comes, there will still be plenty of other groups ready to be offended.