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With More Diversity, Pepsi Commercial Fiasco Could've Been Avoided

by Todd A. Smith

 

The Movement Should Not Be Trivialized


America is in the midst of tumultuous times.


The country is under cyber attack from Russia.


The White House has made some decisions that are more divisive than unifying.


And race relations seem to be deteriorating with police brutality seemingly increasing.  According to a CNN poll, 54 percent of Americans (57 percent of Whites and 40 percent of Blacks) say that race relations got worse under former President Barack Obama.


Therefore, with all of the tension in the country, it is not surprising that companies like Pepsi want to bring a little unity to the nation and show people coming together.


However, the new Pepsi commercial, which features model Kendall Jenner diffusing an explosive protest by giving a Pepsi to a police officer trivializes the movement by insinuating that the only thing that is needed to bring people together is a soft drink.


Like Rev. Bernice King tweeted, “If only Daddy (Martin Luther King, Jr.) would have known the power of #Pepsi.”


Attempting to bring unity to a divided world is admirable.


However, suggesting that it is as simple as Pepsi tried to make it is offensive to all of our leaders, forefathers and mothers who gave their lives to make the world a more unified place.


In a statement released Wednesday, Pepsi apologized for the mistake by stating, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.  Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.  We did not intend to make light of a serious issue.  We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.  We apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”


While Jenner will definitely be one of the scapegoats in the Pepsi commercial fiasco, Pepsi deserves all of the blame because an advertisement this insensitive almost certainly proves that there is very little diversity in the Pepsi boardroom.


Diversity is not just necessary for appearances.

 

Diversity is absolutely necessary for a company’s bottom line.


Furthermore, diversity is not just about skin color.


Diversity is also about age, religion, gender, and region, size and countless other descriptors.


When I was a teenager, I made many of my classmates at Eisenhower High School mad when I stated that I had never heard of Tejano music legend Selena until after her murder.


If I was running a media company at that time, without a diverse staff, I would have missed the importance of her life and career or at the very least reported it without the requisite amount of respect and sensitivity.


That lack of diversity and empathy would have probably cost me a lot of dollars and respect in the industry.


Likewise, companies like Pepsi need to realize, as the country’s complexion gets darker; they have to know how to appeal to darker hues and not offend and disrespect their struggle if they want those dollars.


A more diverse boardroom or company could have simply used unifying speeches from people like King, Nelson Mandela or countless other heroes, with a message that stated Pepsi stands behind all people, regardless of their background.


That type of Pepsi commercial would have been simple, effective and maybe more cost efficient.


Pepsi has to realize that many heroes died to bring the country together.


Many people had drinks poured on them as they participated in the sit-ins of the 1960s.

 

While the Pepsi commercial attempted to bring people together, the lack of diverse people and opinions did more to divide the country even more.


This article was published on Friday 07 April, 2017.
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