Sunday, October 19, 2008

WTF is this shit?

Charming new Pepsi ad as noted by Shakesville (rape trigger warning).

I'd really like to know who sits around and brainstorms for this sort of thing, and what sort of ideas ended up on the "discard" pile before they decided "that's it, this is the one."

ETA: o hay, lookie here: apparently it's -not- Pepsi behind this, after all.

Official Response from Pepsi-Cola Company:

Pepsi-Cola Company wants to assure you that there’s absolutely no Pepsi advertisement in circulation that even remotely resembles the creative in question. After investigating this matter further, we learned that an advertising agency developed this print ad on “speculation” and it inadvertently made its way to the internet.

Please know that we would never use this type of imagery to sell our products. We are not using this image now, nor do we have any plans to use it in the future.

We’re sincerely sorry that this has upset you and we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to set the record straight. If anyone following this topic would like to discuss this issue further, free to contact me at the email address listed below.

Bart Casabona
bart.casabona@pepsi.com
Pepsi-Cola Company


I followed up with Bart to verify that this is in fact an official statement. In his response to my email, Bart also expressed his respect and understanding for our offense at the ad and assured me that Pepsi would never choose to market their brand in this manner...

for one certainly appreciate that Pepsi took the time to look into this, and that their response not only denied but also denounced this advertisement. I think it’s very important for them to do so when these ads have been gaining traction in advertising circles (where I myself looked in attempt to validate them) as legitimate. The company may not have created the ad, but their branding is still on it; for that reason they needed come out against the values perpetuated in the image. And I very much hope that Pepsi will not be using the advertising agency that created this ad in the future.

As for the ad itself . . . I think that this whole thing has been a rather interesting if not particularly surprising experiment in rape apologism. I spent the weekend wading through, deleting and occassionally responding to large volumes of troll comments on two different blogs. In those comments, I was called everything under the sun and the outrage that many of us felt upon seeing this ad was harshly mocked. The complaint from every single one of these people was not that the ad was illegitimate, but that there was nothing wrong with it.


"Gee."

21 comments:

Desipis said...

When I first saw the ad, I saw it as the boy wanting to be the "hero", saving the damsel in distress so to speak, and as a result getting in her good books. Although I can see how one might see it as the boy wanting to get a free grope on the unconscious woman if you're inclined to see the worst in males. Given the way males are clearly and consistently portrayed as immature, corrupt and reckless by these ads (and many others) that's not surprising.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

This ad is terrible. I have seen this on a few blogs and I am sickened by this. These type of ads need to be banned.

Emily said...

Desipis --

You're not the first one I've seen interpret the ad the way you do. If the ad is really about a little boy's chance to become a hero, why does the woman have to be sexualized? Or why couldn't the victim be a man, or a boy, or a small child? Because the woman is blonde, has a model's body, and is wearing a hot pink bikini that barely covers her breasts, it seems obvious to me that the ad was intended to be taken in a sexual context.

While you may be upset about the tendency some "humorless feminists" to see the men in this ad in a negative way, some of those same "humorless feminists" who happen to be survivors of sexual assault are just trying to deal with having seen the ad. PortlyDyke's response, for instance:

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/10/assvertising.html#comment-3141569

I agree that the media often portrays men in a negative way, and if you want to work on changing that, you have my full support. However, suggesting that men are "immature, corrupt, and reckless" is not on the same level as suggesting that sexually assaulting an unconscious woman is funny and that her life and choices are worth less than a Pepsi. Stupid beer ads may make men look bad, but they don't normalize or encourage violence against men. Don't try to say that this ad victimizes you or any other man.

(P.S. It's pretty clear that the advertising industry, as well as the media in general, are not feminist, so don't blame negative images of men on us.)

observer said...

Depsis,
That was my first interpretation too but I find a general rule of thumb is if you replace the comatose, big breasted, half naked woman with a man and it doesn't make sense it is sexist.

belledame222 said...

no matter what they thought they were trying to say was going to happen in the next frame, unconscious woman + underage boy + lifeguard accepting bribes to look the other way while the kid does...something? to her bikini clad form = EW EW EW. even if it's "innocent" mouth to mouth, which, well, it's up to the viewer imagination innit. but even so.

Desipis said...

emily/observer,

I wasn't trying to argue the ad wasn't sexist, or sexual. Just that the ad isn't necessarily about sexual assault, rather the sexualization would occur after he saved her, as a result of being her "hero".

As for PortlyDyke's response (not trying to single her out):

THIS is how ads like these affect women who have been sexually assaulted. For us, there is no luxury to "read it another way".

It's a sad thing that people are harmed to such a deep psychological extent. That said, it's important to remember that it was the person who raped/assaulted that caused the harm, not the makers of this ad. You can't expect the rest of the world to change their way of thinking just because of your bad experiences.

belledame222 said...

Desipis, I haven't (knock wood) been assaulted and I read the ad the same damn way as PD and any number of other women and men. And no one told you to -do- a damn thing. Kindly do not attempt to pathologize people speaking about their own experience on my blog.

belledame222 said...

and no, it isn't about ascribing base instincts to the young boy, it's about being repulsed by the advertisers for putting those elements together in that way in the first place and not seeing the goddam problem people might have with it.

Desipis said...

Belle,

I didn't argue the invalidity of various interpretations. Nor did I claim anyone told me to do anything; I was commenting on peoples expectations that the world change to match their views.

Kindly do not attempt to pathologize people speaking about their own experience on my blog.

With respect, I believe the person in question pathologized themselves.

...not seeing the goddam problem people might have with it.

I think you're underestimating the advertisers. They'll have weighed the positives against the negatives and decided that the ad was overall positive.

Emily said...

Desipis --

Rapes don't happen in a vacuum. The reason PortlyDyke and millions of other women have been raped is because our culture thinks that an ad like this is OK.

"You can't expect the rest of the world to change their way of thinking just because of your bad experiences."

You can't expect rapes to stop until our culture changes.

belledame222 said...

Desipis, you are implying with everything you say that you are "the world" and survivors like Portly Dyke, who was trying to get something through to you or whoever else was commenting there which apparently still is not landing, are a regrettably damaged minority who are to be differentiated from "the world." Also, she was saying "this is how I feel." You put it back on her with "you can't expect." The implication being that she's -demanding- something unreasonable: she isn't. Or that she's "broken" in some way: she isn't. She didn't frigging pathologize herself, and she didn't -victimize- herself.

A -lot- of people find this ad offensive. You don't have to agree that it is offensive, but this?

"if you're inclined to see the worst in males."

I have a problem with the -advertisers-, and I really don't give a fuck whether I'm "underestimating" their brilliant executive decision power or whatnot. Nor do I appreciate the -implication- that because I, TOO, have a problem with the ad, I, too, must "be inclined"--irrationally-- to "see the worst in males," and therefore can be dismissed as an outlier who needs "the world to change" to suit my pathological views.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

and by the way? "asking people to change their way of thinking" is not exactly a terrible burden compared to, for instance, a goddam -rape-. We are all of us constantly being called upon to change our way of thinking all the time: this is called "life." It's not actually a bad thing, really. Whether or not you answer the call is of course up to you.

GallingGalla said...

desipis:

I didn't argue the invalidity of various interpretations.

I'm a rape survivor. This is not a matter of "interpretation". It's a matter of the LIVED EXPERIENCE of many women, including my self, as opposed to your self-righteous, judgemental statements; being a man, it is VERY UNLIKELY that you will have the same experience; being a man, you are BENEFITING from the same structures that make rape and sexual assault against women a "fun" thing, a "joke" to sell soda. We live with the fear of sexual assault every day - it may be in the background, but it is there. You don't.

So I'd suggest you shut your trap.

belledame222 said...

By the way, just to be clear, I don't agree that the ad "should be banned," as in prosecuted or forbidden by law.

but that doesn't mean I don't believe that people should complain and boycott until the advertiser in question figures out -damn, maybe this shit isn't actually *helping* us sell our product-, and adjust accordingly.

Desipis said...

GallingGalla,

It's a matter of the LIVED EXPERIENCE of many women, including my self...

My interpretations are based on my lived experiences, which are no more or less important that yours.

...being a man, you are BENEFITING from the same structures that make rape and sexual assault against women a "fun" thing, a "joke" to sell soda

Was it benefiting to have my complaints of sexual assault laughed off because I'm "a guy and should like that sort of thing"? Do I think my bad experiences should be projected onto everyone else? No.

Belle,

You put it back on her with "you can't expect."

I specifically said I wasn't trying to single her out, rather the expectations for change were from others (such as yourself):

but that doesn't mean I don't believe that people should complain and boycott until the advertiser in question figures out -damn, maybe this shit isn't actually *helping* us sell our product-, and adjust accordingly.

Marketing campaigns such as this aren't aimed at producing short term sales, they're aimed at long term brand recognition. The viral nature of your anti-ad campaign probably is helping them with their goal of brand recognition.

Nor do I appreciate the -implication- that because I, TOO, have a problem with the ad, I, too, must "be inclined"--irrationally-- to "see the worst in males," and therefore can be dismissed as an outlier who needs "the world to change" to suit my pathological views.

I didn't mean to imply irrationality, nor that interpretations should be dismissed. As I've mentioned above, my interpretation is formed from my own lived experiences, and others have different interpretations based on theirs. I'm curious as to what you think causes you to interpret the ad the way you did.

belledame222 said...

Was it benefiting to have my complaints of sexual assault laughed off because I'm "a guy and should like that sort of thing"?

I did not read that whole thread; that is a vile thing to say, yes.

noting that also no one -here- said anything remotely like it.

but yes, the idea that guys "should like that sort of thing" is disgusting and wrong. and -also- a product of the -same- sexism/mentality that enables ads like this.

as a matter of fact, yes, I think -another- problem with the ad is putting a young boy in a sexualized set-up like that with the strong suggestion that it's all in good fun/cute.

the observation that I also think it's wrong for that reason does not, however, cancel out the problem I have with the portrayal of the "damsel" as a comatose Object To Be Won By Any Means Possible, who, realistically speaking, may well be drowning while they're negotiating over who gets to do the mouth to mouth, there.

belledame222 said...

The viral nature of your anti-ad campaign probably is helping them with their goal of brand recognition.

Well, in fact, no, at least not if "they" is Pepsi; see the addendum to the OP. Pepsi didn't actually solicit or approve this thing, see.

I'm curious as to what you think causes you to interpret the ad the way you did.

Very simply why I didn't read it the way you did: because I don't identify with the boy and his heroism, I identify with the woman, and as such, I don't really give a fuck about his heroism, and I'd be freaked the fuck out to wake up from a near-drowning and find a tableau like that one.

also, as someone who's fairly conversant with this sort of shit, I'm aware of the less-than-savory connotations to the very longstanding image of "sleeping beauty."

not to mention the not-infrequent reality of, passed-out woman seen as an opportunity for a man or boy--perhaps especially boy, for the very reason you mention (hey, you're SUPPOSED to want it, go on, she'd right there, what's wrong with you, kid?) to "score," hey, what she don't know won't hurt her. A number of women who are objecting to this ad are quite likely not just rape survivors but people who've been made vulnerable by exactly that situation: get her drunk, get her asleep, get her passed out, WOO.

and how I am aware of -that- is, I pay attention.

belledame222 said...

I mean, seriously, let's unpack your interpretation for a second, okay? Woman wakes up to find the lifeguard who's supposed to be on duty nowhere in sight, but a young boy has "rescued" her. And then...? What, she...rewards him? Or?

Also note that the context is that the -other- ads in that series are clearly about "getting away with" illicit -sex.-

Daisy said...

I spent the weekend wading through, deleting and occassionally responding to large volumes of troll comments on two different blogs. In those comments, I was called everything under the sun and the outrage that many of us felt upon seeing this ad was harshly mocked. The complaint from every single one of these people was not that the ad was illegitimate, but that there was nothing wrong with it.

Nah, go on!

;)

Westerly said...

Ugh. Followed that link.

Apparently driving a truck/eating a truckload of bannanas and donning an astronaut suit is on par with groping (or worse) an unconscious, bikini clad woman? A woman presents the same illicit, thrill-filled opportunities as taking the keys to a banana-filled truck or donning an astronaut suit and sneaking on board a rocket ship? In other words she's just another 'treat', vehicle or potential joyride?

@Desipis
"Although I can see how one might see it as the boy wanting to get a free grope on the unconscious woman..."

Uh...yeah. You don't say.

Seriously, how else are you supposed to read it? That being a lifeguard just happens to be the boy's life-long, cherished ambition, and that the generic 'hot' tanned, busty blonde passed out on the sand is purely incidental and not at all an incentive? ...Okay.

Most people know how to read the ad and all of its glaring cultural markers just fine.

And even if the ad wasn't giving a gross nod and a wink to a really tired notion of masculinity (the boy can initiate himself into the club of real manhood by taking advantage of an unconscious), what's so great about your interpretation of the ad anyway?

Let's see... You present the notion that a fully grown adult woman is automatically a 'damsel in distress' (because there's *nothing* sexist in perpetually portraying women as helpless); you suggest that males - even if they're skinny and prepubescent can become big old 'heroes' (yawn) by saving said helpless woman - because that's what makes you a real man; and to top it all off you actually think that saving someone's life gets you into their "good books"?

What the hell?

And now that the boy saviour is in her (busty, bikini clad, blonde) "good books", hmmm, I wonder what his reward will be...*eyeroll*

Your 'innocent' interpretation is just an additional layer of the ad - and it just confirms one of the myriad of ways that this ad is so objectionable.