The hard truth about that soft drink ad

I am relieved that Pepsi has pulled its ridiculous commercial that obscenely co-opted the #BlackLivesMatter movement. At the very least, it was an awkward failure that tried too hard to be something it could never be. At its worst, it took the very real police violence that has killed many black and indigenous innocent people, including children, and rubbed it in the faces of those who are resisting it.

Some commercials are simply brilliant. I am as partial to creative marketing as anyone. Ad campaigns that tell a story and place the product aptly in them earn my respect, if not always my dollar.

The Pepsi commercial, however, totally misses the mark for its entire two minutes. But where I move from simply rolling my eyes to wanting to speak out is at the end. In the final scenes Kendall Jenner suddenly joins a protest march, shares a can of Pepsi with a policeman at the pinnacle of the picket and then cheers up – the revolution is fulfilled! Here we have a white 21-year-old privileged supermodel, with no association to any resistance movements, who effortlessly heals the trauma of a country built on centuries of racism. All it took was a mega-corporate can of sugar from a company that wants governments to lay down and not make laws that obstruct their obscene profit.

Over the years I have supported the #BlackLivesMatter call for an end to the systemic and ingrained police violence that seems to adopt a ‘kill first’ approach. The deaths at the hands of US police have alarmed me as a mother, sister, aunty, and daughter to generations of brown men and boys. State discrimination is a plague we simply cannot afford anywhere in the world, especially where the cost is life. To then have death and violence completely minimised for an already exploitative business – is unspeakable.

I stand with the people who rightfully spoke out against the Pepsi commercial. I stand with the movements doing the real slog for a world free from violence.