Is Pepsi Okay? The Power of Persuasion

Cardi B has been my favorite artist since she first started coming out with music. She has does not try to forget or hide her past, but instead embraces the Bronx she rose up from on her way to becoming a famous celebrity. Cardi B has gained stardom through her music, social media presence, and personailty. In 2019, Forbes recognized her as the most influential female rapper of all time. Females all over the world, myself included, find Cardi B inspiring for not caring what other people think of her. You can imagine my excitement when I watched her in a Pepsi commercial. I wanted a Pepsi immedietly; that is the power of persuasion. The “More Than Okay” Pepsi Super Bowl commercial effectively used the power of persuasion by using ethos and pathos to reach many groups of people and convince them that Pepsi is more than okay. This commercial promotes Pepsi as being more than just a subsititue for Coca-Cola. Pepsi’s purpose in creating this commericial is to convince customers that Pepsi is the best option. They adopt a passionate tone, use celebrities, and play popular songs in order to advertise their brand and keep viewers engaged.

The commercial begins when a customer asks for a coke, and the waiter responds with “Is Pepsi okay?” He did this because Pepsi has been known as the underdog to Coca-Cola for many years. Pepsi uses the word “okay”, which at this point in the commercial means acceptable. They do this because the phrase “is Pepsi okay?” is so commonly used. During the next part of commercial, another actor, Steve Carrell, is appalled by this interaction. He then asks them if lives greatest things are okay by referncing to puppies, shooting stars, and laughing babies. The author uses Pathos to appeal to the audiences’ emotion. Carrell is defending Pepsi’s name, and since he is famous, the audience is more persuaded.

By the end of commercial, we have seen three celebrities who all say that Pepsi is okay. The celebrities used, Cardi B, Steve Carrell, and Lil Jon, have largely different fan bases. Cardi B appeals largely to females. Lil Jon appeals largely to urban communities. Steve Carrell has been famous for a longer period of time then the other two, making him appeal to older people and anyone who likes to laugh. This makes the ad appeal to greater range of audiences. Pepsi changes the meaning of okay during the commercial by using it in a much more positive tone. By changing the meaning of okay and using ethos and pathos, Pepsi makes their product much more desirable. At the end of the commercial, the girl who originally asked for Coke is mesmorized by all the celebrities and wants a Pepsi. The tone of her voice illustrates what Pepsi wants their viewers reactions to be like.

All in all, Pepsi’s commercial does a good job of convincing customers that Pepsi is the best option. They do this by utilizing ethos and pathos strategies like use of celebrities, playing popular music, relating to popular trends, appealing to nurture, and changing the meaning of okay.

The “More Than Okay” Pepsi ad was successful, however use of a celebrity does not always make for a good commercial. In 2017, an ad featuring Kendall Jenner appearing to bring a protest to an end by sharing Pepsi has been slammed on social media, with some calling out the scene for exploiting the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The commercial begins with Kendall Jenner taking off her white wig to join a protest. In Pepsi’s version of the protest, no one seems too worked up about anything. Jenner fist-bumps an activists before grabbing a can of Pepsi from a well-stocked ice-bucket. Then comes the ad’s climax — and perhaps the part that has caused most uproar. Jenner reaches the remarkably calm front-line of the protest. She spots an officer, walks up to him and hands him the Pepsi. He takes a sip and everybody cheers. Pepsi was trying to appeal to a younger crowd, so they based the commercial around things a younger audience would relate too including protests and the black lives matter movement, and the Jenners.

Despite their efforts, the ad sparked accusations that Pepsi has appropriated a racial protest movement to sell a global fizzy drinks brand. Common issues people found with the ad were that it was nothing like real life protests, and disrespects the movement as a whole. The signs used in the ad have been called “utterly meaningless” by saying things such as love, peace, and join the conversation. When Kendall Jenner takes off her wig to join the protest, she throws it at a black woman. This can be taken in a degrading way, especially when promoting an event that is supposed to be supporting black lives. The biggest controversial part of this commercial is the message it sends to the audience. The commercial makes it seem like sharing a Pepsi would would solve all the problems of police brutality and the black lives matter movement, and to make it worse those chose a rich, celebrity to play the main character.

When using the power of persuasion, it is imperative to consider what message you are trying to send. The “More Than Okay” Pepsi commercial does a great job of employing many persuasive techniques, relating to a range of audiences, and sending a message that many can relate to with the idea that Pepsi is more than okay.

Aristotle. On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civil Discourse. Translated by George A. Kennedy, Oxford UP, 2007.

Smith, Alexander. “Pepsi Pulls Controversial Kendall Jenner Ad After Outcry.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 5 Apr. 2017, www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/pepsi-ad-kendall-jenner-echoes-black-lives-matter-sparks-anger-n742811.

a21aaron. “Cardi B Pepsi Super Bowl Commercial, Steve Carell, Lil Jon 2019 Super 53.” YouTube, YouTube, 3 Feb. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnJQ4oPKgM.

ABCNews. “Pepsi, Kendall Jenner Protest Ad Called ‘Tone Deaf’.” YouTube, YouTube, 5 Apr. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8y9i1gkAFQ.