Diversity in PR

“Could the Pepsi controversy have been stopped if there were more BAME’s in the discussion or decision making process for the advert?”

PepsiCo recently released an advert starring model, internet and TV sensation Kendall Jenner as the lead and controversially covered the topic of social unrest, with the most questionable part of the now removed advert being that of American police brutality. Many took to social media quickly after the adverts release to voice their opinions on the way the company addressed the very sensitive issue and some say belittled it by insinuating that drinking and sharing a can of Pepsi could resolve the very real tension that was apparent on screen and resonated in the United states currently.

Many say that PepsiCo and more specifically Pepsi overlooked and underplayed the social unrest that is still very apparent within the African American community by using it as a means of selling their product. This triggered many critics to wonder whether PepsiCo had any buffers when they were considering this message all the way until it had actually materialised as a produced and aired advert. These questions have arisen and created doubt in how ethnically diverse the PR, communication and employee team involved may have been to have not questioned this idea before it had reached their audiences and many other companies have naturally started to look at how quickly the reputation of their brand can now be affected by overlooking the culturally and social impact of the messages given by the communications they put out. PepsiCo has now since removed the advert and put out a statement acknowledging the fact that the message was distasteful. Was this an issue that could have been curbed had their decision-making team been more diverse?

Diversity in PR is a topic that in recent years has had a lot of light shed upon it with questions arising to the nature of PR firms and their very similar backgrounds for the employees that work. The average profile of a PR practitioner within the field is that of a White, middle class individual and dependent upon the area of PR this would determine whether they are male or female e.g. brand is more female and public policy/politics is more male. The call for and the need for a more diverse group when considering the messages that the brand would want to endorse are now more important than ever due to the individuals that are offended by the messages having a larger platform to voice their opinion and the messages reaching an audience that is larger and more international.

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