Middle Eastern Pepsi Can

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Alissa_Sal's picture
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Middle Eastern Pepsi Can

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=209&sid=2675694

WASHINGTON -- A photograph apparently taken by an American servicemember of a Pepsi can before departing Iraq has spurred a heated debate online for what some say is a "slap in the face" from the sodamaker's Middle East/Africa division.

As U.S. troops left Iraq, U.S. soldier Rolando Martinez reportedly took the photo at right of a Pepsi can he found. Many online, including users who posted to the PepsiCo Facebook page, believe the rendering of a skyline combined with an airplane overhead depict the Twin Towers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

In the wake of the uproar, PepsiCo posted the following message to its Facebook wall:
[INDENT]
"We understand that the design of the can be misinterpreted, which was never our intention. The design is one of two Diet Pepsi cans designed for our Middle East/Africa region, which was created by a South African design agency to display the growth of active cities in that region.
"Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us- we appreciate it. We have taken action to change the design of the can."


[/INDENT]
This doesn't seem to be enough for some consumers, many of whom have called for a boycott of the company.
Check out one of the company's responses in the photo gallery at right.

The can does not directly state the pictured skyline depicts New York City, but many who have posted to Facebook and elsewhere online say at the very least, the design was not well-conceived.

An NBC News affiliate in Colorado reports the picture was viewed on Martinez' Facebook page almost 30,000 times. The link to the original picture seems to be broken. Martinez was helping to close down a base in Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal from war operations in that country, NBC reports.

What do you think? Does this can depict the 9/11 attacks and is this enough for a boycott?

Click link to see a picture of the can. Debate question is bolded above.

culturedmom's picture
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I don't know. I buy it that they didn't intend it to be the NYC skyline. It was created buy a division not in the USA so they are not going to see it the same way. 911 is engrained in our conscious as Americans. Any depiction of 2 towers together is going to bring up very particular imagery. I don't think it is the same everywhere. I think they should just change the can and move on.

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It doesn't seem to depict the NYC skyline and 9/11 however I totally get why it evokes those memories. I think the choice to put something on the can that could be construed as such was ill-conceived at best. Maybe the exec who approved the design should lose a week's pay or something for exhibiting poor judgment.

I think they should change the can as it does have tones of 9/11 but as for a boycott, meh, I'm thinking folks should be satisfied with the can change and find something more worthwhile to spend their caffiene high on.

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It's the plane that makes it look, to me, like the 9/11 attacks. It's supposed to be the Dubai skyline, and if I lived in the Middle East and was familiar in any way with what the skyline actually looked like (without the plane) maybe it would be believable. However, it could easily be interpreted as the NY skyline prior to the attack. I can see how the can would invoke bad memories for some, especially in the US. Bad PR move on the part of Pepsi. And yes, I definitely think that this is plenty enough for people to boycott the company, and I don't mean all people should, just that some have justification.

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It's a pepsi can...I just can't get up in arms about it. Don't drink it if you don't like their design.

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"RebeccaA'07" wrote:

It's a pepsi can...I just can't get up in arms about it. Don't drink it if you don't like their design.

Well, that's exactly what people have done - boycotted Pepsi. It may be just a can, but the imagery on it obviously has stirred some very deep feelings in enough people to have Pepsi retract the design. What if this depiction was on the UAE flag? Just sayin'.

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After looking at the link, I would not have thought of NYC without first having read the article. That said, I am not from NYC and I am sure people from there might think of the situation differently.

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I honestly think its silly to boycott. It was a mistake. Its not like Pepsi is a bad company (for this reasons specifically i mean.....not looking to argue about the goodness of the company as a whole)

I get boycotting if a company has some serious conflicts on moral grounds in their practices or something. But because of an image that somehow slipped through the committee that can be misinterpreted to be something its not?

Meh.

ETA: I just read a lot of the comments on PepsiCo's Facebook Page.....talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. These people are truly bored with their lives.

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It wasn't a good idea but don't think it was on purpose. They fixed their mistake as soon as it was pointed out. Move on.

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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

It's the plane that makes it look, to me, like the 9/11 attacks. It's supposed to be the Dubai skyline, and if I lived in the Middle East and was familiar in any way with what the skyline actually looked like (without the plane) maybe it would be believable. However, it could easily be interpreted as the NY skyline prior to the attack. I can see how the can would invoke bad memories for some, especially in the US. Bad PR move on the part of Pepsi. And yes, I definitely think that this is plenty enough for people to boycott the company, and I don't mean all people should, just that some have justification.

I'm with you on this one... DH and I looked at the link last night and wondered what the heck Pepsi was thinking, especially seeing the plane. I can definitely understand why those serving in the military would take issue with it. Would we boycott it? Probably not since we really enjoy our diet MD, unless they refused to change the design on the can.

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I agree with Kim and Lana. I think that whoever approved the design is probably in a lot of hot water this week just because of the bad PR. But I think it's absolutely true that a non-American wouldn't view a picture of an airplane flying towards a city skyline in the same way that an American would. That image of 9/11 is kind of burned into our consciousness, but probably not so much in to the minds of people in other countries, including the people who designed it and approved it. Not realizing that people will take something differently than how you intended it may be a little short sighted, but it's not immoral and certainly not worth "boycotting" over.

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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Well, that's exactly what people have done - boycotted Pepsi. It may be just a can, but the imagery on it obviously has stirred some very deep feelings in enough people to have Pepsi retract the design. What if this depiction was on the UAE flag? Just sayin'.

I don't think it was a malcious move. So...I don't get being pissy about it and boycotting a company because of a can design that was obviously not intended as some horrible diss against the US. People like to make a big deal out of nothing just to say they have an opinion, this is one of those times.

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"RebeccaA'07" wrote:

I don't think it was a malcious move. So...I don't get being pissy about it and boycotting a company because of a can design that was obviously not intended as some horrible diss against the US. People like to make a big deal out of nothing just to say they have an opinion, this is one of those times.

I get what you're saying. I agree with what you're saying for the most part. All I'm saying is that it's not offensive for some (you, for example), but for others it's hugely offensive. I can't say that their feelings are unjustified.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I honestly think its silly to boycott. It was a mistake. Its not like Pepsi is a bad company (for this reasons specifically i mean.....not looking to argue about the goodness of the company as a whole)

I get boycotting if a company has some serious conflicts on moral grounds in their practices or something. But because of an image that somehow slipped through the committee that can be misinterpreted to be something its not?

Meh.

ETA: I just read a lot of the comments on PepsiCo's Facebook Page.....talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. These people are truly bored with their lives.

ITA. when I was in elementary and middle school I boycotted Coke big time because of Apartheid. Now that is a reason to boycott.

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I don't think it was intentional, but I can see why people were upset. The plane near the skyscrapers did remind me of 9/11. However, I think simply removing the plane would have fixed the problem.

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It didn't remind me of 9/11 when looking at the can, and I feel as a country, we needs to stop making everything about us. If I was Pepsi, I wouldn't change the design and shame on us for making them feel obligated to do so.

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I don't think that this was done maliciously, but I can see where people can get the wrong idea about the can. I think that if the picture had been minus the plane there wouldn't have been an issue. I don't think people should boycot Pepsi, I think they should just change the can and get over it. They apologized for it... move on.

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It's really bad and the art director very well could be given the sack. Graphic artists, as a function of their job need to understand that everything communicates. It's not a stretch at all to think of it as a reference to 9/11, imo. If I was the art directors boss, I'd can 'em.

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"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

It didn't remind me of 9/11 when looking at the can, and I feel as a country, we needs to stop making everything about us. If I was Pepsi, I wouldn't change the design and shame on us for making them feel obligated to do so.

I disagree with this POV, because Pepsi is an American corporation. Honestly if this was the marketing for a can in Costa Rica I wouldn't get the outrage, but knowing that it is specifically marketed to Arab nations does make me take pause. I won't bother boycotting or anything as I'm not a pepsi drinker anyway, but I would be lying if I said that the association wasn't pretty obvious to me.

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I live in NY and I would not look at that design and think it was depicting NYC or the events of 9/11. It wouldn't even occur to me. The plane is also clearly flying over the building. It just looks like a whimsical design of a growing city.