by Tolu Branch
Not only did Madonna break the internet, she irked Pope John Paul II to the point he called for a boycott of her shows.
Today, Pepsi is the name on everybody’s lips and not for good reason. The beverage company is known for churning out great ads, no doubt and they’ve employed some of the biggest American celebrities, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Pink, Britney Spears, Madonna and the most recent, supermodel Kendall Jenner.
Now this recent one that’s got Kendall Jenner is the cause for social media outcry and backlash for this Cola brand that has apparently so trivialized the protest culture to an that can be solved with a can of soda.
But this is not the first time Pepsi has adopted controversy-laden concepts. Let’s tell you a quick throwback story of how the brand collaborated with Madonna to break the internet years ago when the internet didn’t even know its own name.
In 1989, American singer, Madonna had just released a pop rock track with gospel undertones “Like A Prayer“. Like most of her previous tracks, this one was another commercial success and earned her a five million dollar deal with Pepsi. This deal was first of its kind at the time and it was a brilliant move by Pepsi too. They would use Madonna and her song in a commercial, they would sponsor her coming world tour and the commercial would launch “Like a Prayer” globally.
Here’s the ad Madonna shot for Pepsi:
It was the original video for the same song that now sparked controversy. According to critics, the video was politically, racially and religiously offensive. Watch it here and before you make your decision, read the grievances that follow:
“It’s condemnable on the face of it because it exploits a symbol of evil [the burning crosses of the Ku Klux Klan] in order to sell records” – Phil Kloer
“The video is vulnerable to charges of being blatantly provocative in its calculated blending of sex and religion” – Jamie Portman
The Vatican took the position that the video contained blasphemous imagery and called for a national boycott of Pepsi and subsidiaries of the company. They did the most by banning Madonna from appearing in Italy. This was the point Pepsi knew it had to take an action.
Pepsi’s only undoing was getting itself associated with a song that would turn out to be one of the most contentious in Madonna’s career. Pepsi later bowed to criticism and the ad campaign was cancelled. For Pepsi, we would never forget the time they made a wrong move. For Madonna though, her popularity swelled, maybe not good publicity at the start but it spun over time. She was bound to be alright but Pepsi took a hit and it looks like they never learn, hence this new disaster.