By Rabeeya Seemul Latif
The backlash against Pepsi’s recent ad has been tremendous, resulting (to our relief) in the soft drink giant pulling the video off airwaves less than 24 hours of its release.
It’s safe to say that while trying to project “a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the brand majorly missed the mark. Other than trivializing the #blacklivesmatter movement, the ad manages to ignore another pressing threat prevalent in America: the prejudice against the Muslim community.
Pepsi manages to do this despite, what seems like, a forced attempt at inserting a Muslim woman in the advert.
The Muslim woman, who wears a hijab, is an aggravated photographer trying to get a good picture. Finally, she finds a moment worth capturing: Kendall handing the police officer a Pepsi as a peace offering. Her angst has now dissipated and her life goal achieved because she has captured the beautiful moment, where a privileged white woman laughs with an agent of oppression in a moment of peace amidst a protest.
Pepsi’s attempt at being inclusive fails miserably.
This depiction fails to address any kind of marginalization Muslims are facing, including Trump’s Muslim ban, the bombing of mosques, and the abuse and bullying American Muslims face on a daily basis. The token Muslim girl is not sending a unifying message. In fact, the idea of using a hijab as a prop to sell soda makes us L.O.L. (not in a good way).
The Twitterati had to have a say on the matter and here are some of our favorite tweets.
— amina wadud (@aminawadud) April 5, 2017
Journalist Rovaida, from Huffington Post, conducted a poll on Twitter about the placement of a Muslim girl in the ad and Twitter user, Nuzaifa, voiced what we were thinking all along.
Definitely a prop so NOPE. https://t.co/W3leFOPAFy
— Nuzaifa (@wordcontessa) April 5, 2017
Safa Brown’s tweet just sums up the entire situation.
— Safa (@SafaBrown) April 5, 2017