Libertarian Lesbian: Virtue Signaling, Tone-Deaf, or Just Selling Pepsi?

Libertarian Lesbian

In 2007, an advertisement popped up during the Super Bowl that stirred up controversy. Two men were fixing a car while one was eating a Snickers bar. In the heat of the moment, the other guy started eating the same candy bar from the other side. After they met in the middle and their lips touched, what seemed like a kiss drove them to make up for it by doing hyper-masculine things like pulling the hair off their chest.

After an outrage erupted the commercial was removed.

The gay community felt like the commercial conveyed a message that gay men can’t be masculine and that it would further divide us. I’ve experienced the aggression that comes along with ‘crossing the line’ in what I say to the wrong straight person, so I get the concerns.

Joe Solmonese, President of The Human Rights Campaign stated at the time,

“This type of jeering from professional sports figures at the sight of two men kissing fuels the kind of anti-gay bullying that haunts countless gay and lesbian school children on playgrounds all across the country.”

Meanwhile, people on the opposite end of the spectrum were fuming too. I knew because they were all around me. In an article from The Christian Post Robert Knight said,

“Another striking element of this story is that media coverage of the ads’ yanking mentions that homosexual groups were offended, but there is no mention, by and large, about the visceral reaction from the rest of the public.”

Well, here we are again. The place where commercials are offending people on both sides of the aisle for different reasons, so they both object and get it taken down. It is then usually followed by a trend of people on both sides who want to boycott the companies. In Pepsi’s case, that would be nearly impossible for most people.

Here’s a few of their products:

  • Quaker
  • Starbucks (In the can)
  • Rockstar
  • Sobe
  • Tropicana
  • Rice-A-Roni
  • Cheetos
  • Doritoes
  • Lays
  • Sunchips
  • Gatorade
  • Aquafina
  • Propel

Some of their Licensed / Joint Partnership Trademarks include:

  • Dole
  • Lipton
  • Sabra
  • Starbucks
  • Papa Johns

To summarize, the recently released commercial, shown above, featured Kendall Jenner in a photoshoot. After noticing the crowd of protesters marching outside, she shed her hair and makeup to join them. It wasn’t an angry mob, but a diverse group of people coming together with signs that had things like “Join the conversation” and painted hearts, on them.

I have my personal issues with both liberals and conservatives on many issues. It’s a constant argument where everyone is offended. Some conservatives want to talk about statistics and some liberals want to talk about the life they’ve experienced. Both are valid in communicating and understanding each other so we can live together and neither of them do it that often.

I tend to hold the media, mainstream and independent, responsible for making us look more divided than we are. It is really apparent when you look at your group of friends and you aren’t all the same.

To break down some of the arguments, some are saying the ad was tone-deaf, trivialized Black Lives Matter, and isn’t an accurate representation of what protests are like. Others say Pepsi is virtue signaling, glorifying protests, and pandering to the affluent college crowd.

Commercials exist to sell products…period. They aren’t meant to cure the world of it’s problems and if they constantly reflected reality, advertisements wouldn’t work as well.

I don’t believe the commercial was only about Black Lives Matter. When you watch it, you see the “intersectionality” that a majority of protests have and you can point to any one of them. BLM, Pro-Choice, Occupy Wall Street, Women’s March, A Day Without Women, A Day Without Immigrants, Anti-Trump, Dakota Access Pipelines, Trans Rights… at some point, you have to see that you all look the same to a majority of the other side. It’s presumptuous to think anyone would be talking about one group when all of you show up together every time.

A business wouldn’t “virtue signal” just to please people, unless it furthered their business interests. Evoking emotion is always used in marketing and sales.

Contributing Editor to Inc., Geoffrey James wrote,

“If you’re going to create the emotions that drive decision-making, you need to know not just the audience’s current emotional state, but also the beliefs that they’re using to evaluate the emotional weight of anything that you might present to them.”

That means research! The more thoroughly you research your audience, the more likely you’ll be to understand their current state and the better you’ll marshal emotions to change that state.”

No one uses pure critical thinking to make a decision because we’re all passionate about something. It may be due to difficult or easy life experiences but it’s not always a flaw or weakness. It’s being human. People or companies could take advantage of that and no one is completely immune but I didn’t see that ad as malicious.

Maybe it was purposefully provocative. We are talking about Pepsi more than we would if people didn’t make a big deal about it. Trending searches on Google and hashtag popularity prove that. I never thought I would write an article about Pepsi that wasn’t about how unhealthy it is.

I looked up the stock and saw that it had dropped after the controversy. But they own so many products, I would be shocked if this really hurt them.

pepsi stock

Here’s a chart in a span of five years. I’m not claiming to be an expert on this. But the ups and downs seem to be part of growing a large business.

pepsi snapshot

A longstanding company with a successful CEO like Indra Nooyi who increased PepsiCo’s market cap by 18% in the past 12 months and proved that a business can be more conscious about improving their products rather than suffering from the regulations and activist investors knows what they’re doing. They want the commercial to be perceived in a certain way and plan how to react if it isn’t. It’s not necessarily an evil conspiracy as much as just wanting to stay in business.

Now that I’ve touched on the subject of conspiracies, I did read an article in Elle that caught my eye. The last sentence was, “Pepsi: the official soft drink of the resistance! Wonder what CEO and Trump business council member Indra Nooyi thinks about that.” I won’t assume any ill intent or suggestion from this even though I see a trend of adding Trump onto issues people feel negatively about to validate it. The fact that the link in the sentence leads to a Fortune article laying out the facts, would deter someone from thinking there is shady collusion between the two.

Just to cover all the bases, during the election Nooyi came under fire for allegedly criticizing Donald Trump. She was misquoted by Forbes, who have since corrected the article. But it looks like the other independent media sites that picked up the story were mad about other things she said, too. Here is the statement she made.

“Just a day after the election of Republican Donald Trump, Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi took a hard line in response to a question regarding some of the comments the next president made about women while on the campaign trail. Nooyi said the disparagement of women is a negative strain in the world that has to be ended.”

‘Forget about the Pepsi brand. How dare we* talk about women that way,’ Nooyi said on Thursday morning, referring to comments Trump made on the campaign trail and in an Entertainment Tonight video roughly a decade ago that surfaced in October. ‘If we don’t nip this in the bud it is going to be a lethal force in society,’ Nooyi added, in comments made at the New York Times Dealbook Conference in Manhattan.

*Editor’s Note, 11/16: The original version of this story misquoted Nooyi. The language has been corrected above and in the headline of this post.

In this correction, Forbes fixed the original article that said, “How dare he talk about women that way” to “How dare we talk about women that way.” The Washington Post also released an article stating that it was “a response to a question about consumers that referenced the coarseness of the election and domestic violence issues in the NFL.”

It also shows the original video of her interview at the conference. In reference to The Washington Post also mentioned, “Trump supporters on social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pounced on parts of her remarks, calling for a boycott of PepsiCo’s products.”

I’m not sure how the people on social media felt about the correction but I’m not convinced that one word is responsible for the outrage. Personally, I think what she said in that quote was completely valid and I agree. It doesn’t matter what kind of power anyone has, we’re allowed to criticize people in the country because we have freedom of speech. There are also conservatives who felt the same way about the comments Trump made in that video.

That wasn’t the only thing she said that struck a nerve with supporters of Trump. The President of the NLPC (National Legal Policy Center) Peter Flaherty released an article titled, “PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Should Resign For ‘Inane and Inflammatory’ Election Comments”. He goes over a few reasons but I’ll go over her quote he put at the top of his article.

In regards to the results of the election Nooyi said, “I had to answer a lot of questions from my daughters, from our employees. They were all in mourning. Our employees were all crying. The question that they are asking, especially those who are not white ‘Are we safe?’, women are asking ‘Are we safe?’, LGBT people are asking ‘Are we safe?’.”

He responded with, “Nooyi went on to ‘assure everybody in the U.S. that they are safe.’ Of course, the only purpose to such an assurance is to allow such an inane and inflammatory statement to be made in the first place. Nooyi’s comments are inappropriate for the CEO of a major corporation. She should resign.” I suggest reading the rest of the article to see what else he said about her because I don’t want to misquote or copy most of his article on here.

I know I’ve “left the Left” because of the direction liberals seem to be going in but I don’t think there is anything wrong with her addressing their concerns. Especially when they’ve been bombarded with left-leaning media and protests convincing them they now have to live in fear.

“The first thing we have to do is assure everyone that they are safe.”

That’s a completely reasonable thing for her to say. They’re worried about being beaten up, killed by cops, raped, and treated like they’re less than human. Should they be scared of this happening? I don’t know. They’ve been told they should be and many of the conservative voices out there haven’t been very reassuring by yelling out statistics and mocking them. If someone came to this country illegally they may get deported and I agree that they should. I don’t recall her saying she had any employees who did.

We’re seeing people take a jab wherever they can in the name of “virtue signaling” and getting reactions. I also see slippery slopes with victim mentalities that are emerging. Political correctness and Cultural Marxism aren’t something I ignore but if we don’t pick our battles wisely, everything turns into a monster.

On the other side, sources like CBS News we’re declaring “Fake News!” in their headlines, focusing on a the idea that Trump supporters were boycotting “because of false reports that CEO Indra Nooyi told Americans who voted for him to ‘take their business elsewhere’.” They also referenced two Buzzfeed articles as a source of determining fake news.

Vox stated that the quote came from The Conservative Treehouse, which I’ve never heard of. That article also said things like, “Trust me on this (we follow these impacts), regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with Indra Nooyi sell any Pepsico stock asap. If you have a 401k find out if it’s invested in PepsiCo and see if you can find a way out of it.” I didn’t read that from the conservative news sources I looked into.

There was also a petition calling for Nooyi to reject the White House job offer. It sounded more like a threat than a concerned call to action. It’s actually called, “Pepsi: don’t team up with Trump” and brags about the action they’ve taken against them before. I would think having a woman working with Trump, who openly voiced her opinion about issues they normally agree with, would be a good thing.

We’ve been down this path many times before. I just find it odd when opposing sides of an argument have the same goals. Especially, when it could hurt businesses that provide us with jobs, things to buy, and a better economy. We would ultimately be hurting ourselves.

We’re all so accustomed to defending what we know, trying to find the truth, and pinpointing our enemy. But I don’t think it would take living in a utopia to see that they were trying to find a middle ground in that commercial. Unfortunately, there only needs to be one person on each side of the issue to write an article or post a video and everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

That’s why I blame media. There’s a lot more of us standing on the outside, seeing the over-exaggerations and know that people normally have rational conversations.

Pepsi didn’t miss the mark, they just didn’t pick a side. They tried to please everyone and it still made headlines.

Is it because the media is pitting us against each other or is it because we don’t want to come together?

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About the Author

My name is Latasia and I’m the Libertarian Lesbian. I’m a former Liberal who noticed the progressives were getting out of hand and did some research. The journey to Libertarianism started when Ron Paul ran for president but I was stuck on the ‘social issues’ of being a Liberal because I thought it was the right and empathetic way of thinking. After doing some research, I see now that I was wrong. These are my thoughts. For more of my work go to and check me out on Halsey News every Tuesday for my weekly column.