Pepsi Ad: Sucking Up The Last Drop Of Political Consciousness Out Of Youth
By Nikita Azad
22 October, 2015
Each one of us remember these punchlines of Pepsi which enchant almost entire middle class of the nation, by relieving it of the tensions of life, family, and career, and refreshing them. Recently, Pepsi has again 'refreshed' the nation by a new advertisement, mocking the striking students, who break their hunger strike by not being able to control their thirst on seeing Pepsi. When everyone turns towards the student who does so, he comments, "Pepsi thi, pee gya."
The advertisement has defamed the entire student community, and pro-people politics, by choosing to mock the most serious issue of the year, which has gained worldwide attention. Pepsi has, in a way, declared openly that education is also a commodity, just like the carbonated drink. It has waged a war against student politics, by sending the pro-imperialist message throughout the nation.
This ad reminds me of a Limca ad, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, another multinational firm in India. This ad features Kareena Kapoor, who misses her train because of the irresponsibility and laziness of station master who is busy gossiping over the phone. She tries to catch the train but falls on a street vendor, a woman selling vegetables, who grabs her when she accidentally ruins her stock. Then, she sees a man selling Limca, buys it and the song begins, "Sar jo tera chakraye, hai safar pe jab tu jaye..aa ja pyare pas hamare, limca tujhe bulaye..", to which she feels extremely relaxed. This advertisement encourages us to drink Limca on encountering corrupt officials, and consider those vendors as lunatics who toil everyday in scorching heat and chilly winds to make two-square meal a day for their families.
Coca Cola targets a section which is critical of the state's policies, highly discontented with unemployment, dissatisfied with the standard of living; and plays the trump card over it by diverting the answers towards the so-called dirtiness of toiling masses, and Keep calm and Live long attitude. It consciously plays with the insecurities of people having high aspirations and hopes.
Both these advertisements have mocked those who demand something in return of their sweat, blood, taxes, resources, and votes, from the governments. They have given an injection named, LIVE IT ABHI! and sidelined the grave concerns including heathy food, and subsidised education.
The present year is an year of student politics which is reflected in the choice of the theme of advertisement. The students of FTII have been protesting for nearly four months now, against the communal nomination of five FTII society members. The students of Pondicherry University have protested against the appointment of their VC, and were beaten up, and dragged by the police. The students of EFLU are fighting against gender discrimination, and violence inside the campus. The students of University of Hyderabad are protesting against police patrolling on campus, militarization, and UGC guidelines of setting up police station inside the campus. The students of DU, JNU, Jamia, Ambedkar University, NLSU have launched a campaign named Pinjra Tod: Break the hostel locks, against the sexist atmosphere of the campuses. The students of MANUU have also collaborated with Pinjra Tod wave, and are protesting against gender discriminatory practices in campus. On on hand, the students of Delhi faced threats from ABVP goons, and on the other, MANUU administration lodged complaints against their students. Earlier, this year MHRD imposed a ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, in IIT, Madras because of its so-called 'anti-national' activities. In a similar manner, Prof. G.N.Saibaba, a 90% disabled person, involved in pro-people politics, whereby he consistently fought for the rights of tribals, was arrested on the charge of having links with Maoists. Last but not the least, at this moment, the students of JNU, DU, JAMIA are protesting in front of UGC office, Delhi against UGC's decision to do away with non-NET fellowship.
The year, 2015 is certainly an year of commercialization and communalisation of education on state's part, and that of vehement opposition of it on students' part. It proves to be the year of students' politics, demanding fair, scientific, and equal education system. This is reflected in the Pepsi advertisement also, whereby a girl can be seen holding the poster, "Roll back Fee Hike" which loses significance as soon as one student drinks Pepsi. Perhaps, the drink might not break the students' determination, but the market culture that Pepsi is trying to create, might be able to depoliticise students.
Through this advertisement, Pepsi has revealed the character of all giant international corporations, i.e. to commodify every human asset. It has exposed the big corporate-governments nexus which liquidated all trade barriers during liberalization in 1990-91. Although we were so much impressed by Pepsi at that time but now we know the actual meaning of 'Yeh hai right choice, baby!', being that of sucking up the last drop of political consciousness out of youth.
Also, there is a lot of debate centering the effects of Pepsi on human health. Some say Pepsi is a toilet cleaner, but I think it is a thought cleaner.
Yeh hai wrong choice, baby.
Nikita Azad Women's Activist, Student activist, Government College Girls, Patiala, Punjab