Black men applaud Kendall Jenner in a Pepsi commercial.
One day after releasing a three-minute ad with original music, a multi-character storyline, and at least one helicopter shot—as well as another Kardashian everyone seems to know but me—Pepsi has pulled its Kendall Jenner commercial. Is this the fastest an American company has ever pulled an ad? No—that would be the disastrous Quaker Oats Company spot where Mikey refuses Life cereal until he dies of starvation, which ran for one afternoon in 1994. But this is pretty close. What is it about this commercial that so immediately enraged people? Pepsi gives us a hint in today’s statement:
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 any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.
Yeah, Kendall Jenner has suffered enough. But what’s this about making light of serious issues? The problem seems to be that this ad conspicuously elides serious issues of all kinds. Video after the jump.
Good news for brands: Google has released a comprehensive guide to what teens think is cool. Perhaps you’ve heard of Generation Z, the cadre of Americans younger than Millennials who will apparently be this country’s last generation. There are about 60 million of these 13 to 17 year-olds, and they spend $44 billion annually. “But it could be close to $200 billion annually when you factor in their influences on parental and household purchases,” Google’s new Coolbook assures us. It’s called It’s Lit: a guide to what teens think is cool, and it is every bit as edgy, disruptive and authentic as that title suggests. I quote page two:
Gen Z has an enlightened definition of what it means to be cool. Teens feel that being cool is about just being yourself, embracing what you love, rejecting what you don’t, and just being kind to others. The activities they think are cool reflect their generational struggle between technology and RL (real life.)
You know you’ve hit on a useful definition of cool when it contains the word “just” twice. Terrifying chart after the jump.
From the depths of his fatherhood, Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this Bubble Tape commercial of the early 90s—right at the intersection of Max Headroom and MTV. The Baby Boomers had recently assumed control of broadcast media, but they retained their identity as the first generation in history to see through institutional authority. They still didn’t buy what the man was selling, but their lives had progressed to the point where they were selling it. The generation told not to trust anyone over 30 was now in charge of marketing long gum to children. Naturally, they employed the message that most resonated with them: old people are not cool. As the Boomers grew even more hideously aged in the decades that followed, that idea would mutate into “most people are not cool.” The notion that you could be different from most people by buying something would become the central premise of American advertising.
If you watch Hulu, as I do when my Critique of Pure Reason is broken, you have probably seen Grand Marnier’s “blend out” commercials. In the one above, everyone at the club is kind of bored by a jazz combo, until a young man reinvigorates them by mounting the stage and beatboxing along. Grand Marnier: drink a bunch of it and interrupt a public performance, probably to broad acclaim. It’s pretty much your standard alcohol-commercial excellence fantasy, (q.v. Heineken) except everyone in the club is black, and our beatboxer is white. Surely there’s a reason for that—but what?
Obviously, Stringer is the cutest puppy in the world, even now that he is an old pro. Last night, a Budweiser advertisement featuring the second-cutest puppy in the world aired during the Super Bowl, and people loved it. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, “Lost Dog” was the most popular ad of the broadcast. Coincidentally, Newt Gingrich announced on Twitter that it was his favorite, too. Newt Gingrich is a bidder for the admiration of the crowd, to paraphrase the De Lome Letter. Video after the jump.