Twitter users mock controversial Pepsi ad with Arab Spring jokes

Arab Twitter users are linking the clip to the Arab Spring protests which flared up in 2011. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Updated 10 April 2017

Twitter users mock controversial Pepsi ad with Arab Spring jokes

DUBAI: As the controversy over Pepsi’s ill-fated advert with Kendall Jenner mounts, with the beverage giant pulling the ad and apologizing on Wednesday, Twitter users are making a host of Arab Spring-related jokes.
Arab social media users have taken to the Internet in droves after the advert garnered international backlash online.
The ad shows Kendall Jenner, a member of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” reality TV family, stepping away from a modeling shoot to join a crowd of smiling, young protesters. The protesters cheer after Jenner hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer, who takes a sip.
However, social media users slammed the clip, saying it made light of the recent spate of protests in the US.

“When you imagine the time period that they were conceiving shooting this, it's easy to imagine that the team at Pepsi thought they were making a courageous global epic about unity during a time of rising racial-nationalist, xenophobic populism,” CEO Mark DiMassimo of DiMassimo Goldstein, a New York-based branding agency, told Arab News.

“Celebrity, Thailand, corporate America, the in-house agency, good intentions [were] all major distortion fields - sometimes great marketers make great errors,” he added.

“The protest movement (in the advert), with echoes of Black Lives Matter, is presented as something light and fun, like a big old frat party that's open to everyone … There's flirting and hook-ups and unlikely musical collaborations and a lot of smiles. One wonders why these people are protesting when they are so happy. In the end, Kendall Jenner hands the Pepsi to the least threatening looking cop ever, and his smirk is reminiscent of the final frame of a Mentos “Freshmaker” commercial or that look on mom’s face at the end of an old Sunny D spot. Cheesy.”

After initially defending the advert, Pepsi on Wednesday issues an apology, stating: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding… Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.”

“If they had been ready to go the full [Donald] Trump playbook and stand behind it and then double down with more action... I still think they could have gotten a lot out of it,” DiMassimo said, adding: “Great advertising is a reflection of the good will that already exists amongst the target audience… I think Pepsi overestimated the good will of this new generation.”


In a sign of the supposed fading of good will, Arab Twitter users are linking the clip to the Arab Spring protests which flared up in 2011.
“Now we know the solution to oppressive Middle East governments is Pepsi. The problem with the Arab Spring is that it was powered by “Bibsi’,” one user joked, referring to the typically Arab pronunciation of the word “Pepsi.”

“Pepsi would’ve made the Arab Spring revolutions a lot more loving and less violent,” another user tweeted.

Another user sighed “if only the Arab spring had Pepsi cola.”

“Tiananmen Square and the Arab Spring should’ve never happened if they had Kendall Jenner and a can of @pepsi,” one Twitter user surmised.

PepsiCo. Inc. had previously said the ad was created by its in-house team and that it would “be seen globally across TV and digital” platforms.
It initially described the spot as featuring “multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.” That description was also derided on social media.
The Purchase, New York, company had stood by the ad late Tuesday. By Wednesday, it was apologizing to Jenner for putting her “in this position.”

 

(With the Associated Press)


Mother of US journalist missing in Syria appeals to White House

Debra Tice, the mother of missing journalist Austin Tice, addresses a press conference January 27, 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2020

Mother of US journalist missing in Syria appeals to White House

  • A State Department spokesperson said Monday, “recovering American hostages is a top priority for this Administration and President Trump continues to successfully secure the release of American hostages”

WASHINGTON: The mother of a US journalist missing in Syria since 2012 on Monday appealed to President Donald Trump for help in securing his release, claiming that one or more senior US officials have blocked talks with the Damascus government on the matter.
Debra Tice, appearing at a news conference to speak about her son Austin Tice, said she believes the Syrian government was willing to speak with Washington since 2014 but that the US government failed to follow through.
“There is a senior US government official who is hesitating or stalling,” she said, declining to offer any specifics or indicate if it was the same person in both the Obama and Trump administrations.
The State Department said in response only that that it is in fact working to secure Tice’s release.
The photojournalist’s mother said that during one of her visits to Syria in March 2014, she got “a message” from the Syrian government that it would only consider talks with “a US government official of appropriate title” and that she had been pressing Washington on this since that time to accept the offer.
Tice said she believed Trump wanted to help secure her son’s release and urged him to break the stalemate that has prevented any negotiations on Austin Tice, a former Marine officer who has worked as a freelance photographer for the Washington Post, AFP and other news organizations.
“There is no possible way for me to understand why anyone would defy the president’s will and choose to leave our beloved son who puts his life on the line serving this country three tours as a Marine Corps officer,” she said.
She said she hoped Trump would address her son’s case in his State of the Union address set for next week.
While it remained unclear who is holding her son, Debra Tice maintained that “the Syrian government is best placed to secure his relief.”
She said she had “credible information” that her son is still alive in Syria, without elaborating.
A State Department spokesperson said Monday, “recovering American hostages is a top priority for this Administration and President Trump continues to successfully secure the release of American hostages.”
“We work tirelessly on each and every case of an American being held hostage abroad and we will continue to do so in the case of Austin Tice until he is back home with his family and loved ones,” the spokesperson said.
The Tice family is organizing a second “night out for Austin Tice” to raise funds to add to a $1 million FBI reward for information that would lead to his recovery.