It’s been widely covered that the Pepsi ad was a complete flop. It was pulled after literally one day, during which it was savagely (and accurately!) berated as being tone-deaf, self-congratulatory, and appropriative of the Black Lives Matter movement while using a white, female model as its medium. The idea that all of America’s culture and race problems could be solved by Kendall Jenner giving a police officer an ice cold Pepsi is one that definitely should not have been allowed to leave the New York office it crawled out of.
This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Coke to come out of the woodwork with an ad (not starring Taylor Swift) that did not, “miss the mark,” as Pepsi put it. But another carbonated beverage company stepped in and got it perfectly, perfectly right, first. Hi, Heineken!
The ad features three pairs of very different humans: a man who doesn’t believe climate change exists and one who isn’t insane; a man who describes himself as alt-right and a woman who describes herself as a feminist; and a “solemn” older gentleman with conservative views and a transgender woman.
Heineken confirmed to TODAY that the ad, which runs just under four minutes and 30 seconds, is “a real-life social experiment that features real people. We were very deliberate in casting real people with their own views in our film.”
The pairs, without knowing the other’s background and views, must work together to assemble barstools and a bar. Then they are shown each other’s self-introduction videos, where they describe their own ideology. At the point, they have a choice: they can either walk out and never speak again, or they can sit together at the freshly constructed bar and discuss their differences over a Heineken.
What happens is predictable and is about as groundbreaking as a beer commercial can get, but it was exactly what the public needed not only in the riptide of the Pepsi ad disaster, but also in the current state of the world. But why does this commercial work so well to promote unity in diversity, whereas the ad by Pepsi crashed and burned?
I think this ad really showcases what is wrong with passionate opinion-havers of today. Opinionated media is funneled to people via their Facebook likes and Internet search histories. People tend to socialize with others that have the same ideology that they do. In this way, it becomes incredibly easy for them to think that they are absolutely right and everyone else is absolutely wrong, because all they ever see or hear are opinions and, at times, biased research that reinforce their own beliefs. And when people do actually interact with others that have opposing beliefs, it’s usually through some kind of social media war, berating each other in the comments. I don’t think that’s how the UN does it.
In this ad, real people with real opposing views had to sit face to face and confront those views. They were forced to realize that their “enemies” are not simply usernames on a screen, but real people whom they can work with and whom they might have many other things in common with. Most importantly, the ad showcased that people that disagree with one another might be able to find common ground by amicably talking it out like adults. It didn’t take a hot button issue and slap its logo on it, the way Pepsi did. It focused on the actual conversation – and hopefully, many more will stem from this ad and help people see that we all really aren’t so different from one another.
Imagine that. Talking and treating other people like human beings to fix our problems.
In times like these, I’m constantly reminded about a video that rolled around Facebook for a while that really changed my own ideology (I know, ideology changes stemming from Facebook videos probably aren’t super valid but just trust me on this one). In the video, a former CIA Clandestine Service officer sits down with Al Jazeera’s AJ+ to discuss what she’s learned from working undercover in counterterrorism for nearly a decade.
And her main takeaway? “Everybody believes they are the good guy..
“The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them,” she said. “If you hear them out, if you’re brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that more often than not you might’ve made some of the same choices if you’d lived their life instead of yours.”
And that’s something to chew on for a while. It’s applicable in nearly every scenario. Think about others and what they have endured, and put yourself in their shoes before making judgements. We should have learned those skills as children, but at least we have some decent media out there to help steer us in the right direction.