this pepsi fiasco shows why brands need to hire more poc

April 6, 2017

When a marketing campagin or iniciative goes wrong at most major companies, due to a lack of “sensitivity”, it’s because there aren’t enough (or any) black voices represented in the decision-making process.

This is self-evident when we talk about all types of underrepresented groups. Like women for example. Just two weeks ago we saw that photo of GOP lawmakers gathering to discuss the future of women’s health care in America, without any women in the room to voice their opinions. The bill never made it to the floor, and its cruelty towards women and mothers was a key reason why.

When we look at the marketing flubs made by Pepsi and Nivea this week, we see just another clear cut example of white people be able to tell their undisrupted narratives, with no regard to context or history, frankly.

Nivea’s “white is purity” ad is even straight out of Roland Barthes’ collection of post-modern essays about cultural mythologies, and the passage about laundry detergent and white supremacy, in particular.

I doubt malice was at play in either the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad or the Nivea “white ispurity” ad, for me, the problem is the white perspective in general. It’s the unconscious association with whiteness as “goodness” “righteousness” and “purity” that’s the problem. It’s that part of them that sees the black and brown struggle as a fun time social event that should be led by a white woman. And while black and brown people aren’t responsible for educating white people, that’s an inadvertent benefit of having diversity at every level, in any department.

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.