Part of being human is knowing our limits, understanding that we don't know everything, don't have all the answers for all the people, and can't do everything. This isn't negative but positive. It's real and it's human and it builds our credibility when we admit limitations rather than destroying it.
Which brings me to Pepsi's hilariously disastrous Kendall Jenner commercial with beautiful young and diverse millennials protesting something -- we're not sure what. They're carrying signs that read "PEACE" and "Join the Conversation." Really? I generally like to know what "conversation" I'm "joining" when I participate in a protest march. Am I marching for women's reproductive rights, immigrants, civil rights, the LGBTQ community, or Donald Trump? I'd like to know because it matters.
As James Dean liked to say when interviewers asked him what he was rebelling against -- "whaddya got, man?" Pepsi wanted to tap into youthful rebellion, which is fine, but the execution of this strategy was beyond awful. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.
So Ms. Jenner seems to be a model in some first-floor fashion shoot as a protest march is happening outside. We don't know why but she decides to "join the conversation," marching with the other fit, attractive Millennials (at least Pepsi knows its target demo). They come to a line of determined, attractive-looking police. In an act of what Pepsi wants us to assume is "rebellion" or "bravery," Jenner breaks through the marching crowd, walks up to a police officer, and hands him a Pepsi. The marchers/paid extras cheer, as if to say "why hadn't I thought of that?"
Let's state the obvious problem here, one Pepsi inexplicably missed. People don't define themselves through Pepsi or protest. We're multidimensional, and some of the worlds we inhabit shouldn't be mixed, as Seinfeld's George Costanza once said in an episode called "When Worlds Collide." The worlds of Pepsi and protest are different worlds.
We don't expect Pepsi to bridge our national divides over race, immigration policy, and income inequality. The ad trivializes our differences and insults our intelligence by assuming otherwise. Pepsi can't resolve racism. Giving Trump a Big Mac won't get him to care more about the poor and disempowered. It'll take more than Taco Bell to resolve the Arab-Israeli situation. The Bible promises that one day the lion shall lay down with the lamb, but it'll take more than a TemperPedic mattress to bring that day about.
I can't solve the problems of this world by myself, nor can you, nor can Pepsi or McDonald's, but we CAN be honest about our limited capabilities. That just makes us human. Share your thoughts below . . .