Nothing is more political than business, and this has become even more relevant in the 21st century. It’s become part of the status quo for companies to be politically correct and inclusive in advertising opportunities. Cultural ideologies have greatly evolved from the 1950’s to the 2010’s. We’ve moved away from the myths that formerly plagued our society: that products that were previously marketed towards a certain demographic have to stay within that demographic. Cleaning advertisements are now not only marketed towards women, but to anyone who cleans. The Marlboro Man is no more and now even men are featured in makeup advertisements. Inclusive marketing is expected in advertising. Straying away from stereotypes, and creating a visual culture that is far more representative. Consumers expect marketing companies to embrace and accept them, no matter the age, race, or gender. Liberalism in our modern society has become the go-to for marketing strategies, and many companies are catching on. Poltically-driven ads seem to be the most widely discussed topic in pop culture now, especially after Pepsi released this advertisement.
The backlash from this advertisement was so strident, that Pepsi had to ban the ad from airing. In this commercial, we see Kendall Jenner joining a street demonstration, offering a police officer a can of Pepsi, and seemingly fixing the injustices of our society. There’s a known power-relationship between police force and protestors, and in this case, it was handled extremely poorly. The unforeseen consequences Pepsi received for involving a tone-deaf and racially insensitive display of politics into their ad has been catastrophic for the company and even caused Pepsi’s stock to plummet.
Even associating with a political movement or party can be make-or-break for certain companies. New Balance was deemed the first major sportswear company to publicly support Donald Trump, and essentially ruined their business. After making a statement saying that “things were moving in the right direction” under Donald Trump’s presidency, the company was under fire and still has barely recovered from this public mishap. Consumers want to be associated with companies who uphold a similar set of values, and when something happens to disturb this, companies suffer.
In comparison, an extremely successful advertisement from Air BnB is pictured below:
This ad was strategically released after Donald Trump implemented his travel ban on six countries. The ad depicts faces of men and women of all races and ages, and displays the message “we all belong.” Although there was no specific mention of the travel ban or of Donald Trump, it’s obvious to the consumer what the intended meaning is. This ad even features men and women staring directly into the camera and telling the spectator that Air BnB does not support the travel ban. This commercial’s achievement was very rare for such a politically-driven ad, but with the right representation, it succeeded.