The hidden messages of commercials affect viewers as much as the intended messages. Commercials are made to influence mindsets and attitudes about or toward people, products or services. When people of influence sign up to represent a brand, they generally know or are advised about the content to ensure that they will not offend or disrespect anyone. However, the creators have to focus more on the possible affect the message may carry.
Unfortunately, the positive intent is not always executed. The ball gets dropped somewhere between the first creative meeting and the airing of the commercials. Kendall Jenner, a reality television star, experienced that sort of embarrassing moment after a Pepsi commercial aired. Jenner, someone from an influential family, decided to represent a brand in a commercial where the intended message and perceived message did not match up.
Critics said that she and the commercial showed little to no respect for the Black Lives Matter movement. The commercial showed people of different races, ethnic groups and religions who came to gather holding up peace signs and then faced a wall of police officers. Jenner, who had later joined, grabbed a Pepsi out of a cooler, offered one to the officers and that seemed to fix all of the violence and conflict. When the backlash came from the commercial, critics said that Pepsi had made light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jenner’s role was to make it seem like a cold Pepsi could solve the country’s tension between the police departments and the community. Pepsi apologized, not only to the public but to Jenner as well. They apologized for putting her in the position where her character was questioned. They apologized to the community for trying to say that a drink could solve the racial divide of the country.
Another company went through a similar situation where they thought about the good intentions and did not count on the bad reactions. Dove experienced this with one of their recent commercials where their representatives said, “they missed the mark.” In the ad, Dove had three actresses. The main backlash came when the black actress was shown removing her shirt to reveal a white woman underneath.
The infamous commercial did not rotate on Dove’s Facebook too long before being discontinued but by then, it was a little too late for the company. For this commercial, people perceived that black skin was less clean or less beautiful and needed to be removed for the lighter skin color.
Dove has also started bending the lines when it comes to body types. In Dove UK, the company came out with different shaped body wash bottles. Some tall and thin while other bottles were short and wide. Both commercials were met with various reactions. Many people felt that if Dove had just reversed the order of the women, the whole situation could have been avoided, while in the commercial with the bottles, others thought that Dove was taking their Real Beauty Campaign too far.
Victoria Secret made an ad with models that all appeared thin and the picture was used to represent beauty. The misconception of this is that only women who look like that can be considered beautiful. Many people that the ad that they named “The Perfect Body” was irresponsible. It promoted body shaming of over types and shapes.
When creating a commercial, companies have to take into consideration how they portray race, religion, gender and even body types. If they do not, these sorts of disasters happen. The backlash from a simple mistake, even with good initial intentions, can sometimes ruin a company’s reputation to the point of no return.