Thursday, April 23, 2009

"French Kiss"

This ad is one in a series of Pepsi ads which were created by a French advertising company. The ad depicts an attractive woman in a skimpy bikini laying unconscious on the beach. A lifeguard standing nearby is trading his lifeguard shirt for a can of Pepsi to a young boy who is standing over the woman.

Upon first glace, the ad presents as disturbing. What message is this supposed to send? When one looks closer at the details and the body language it becomes even worse.

First, there are marks in the sand showing that the woman was dragged out of the water. She is lying there unconscious and obviously needs CPR and possibly other medical attention. The lifeguard is looking away from her which can be taken as symbolically that he is going to "look away" from what happens. The vehicle is also facing the other direction which indicates that the lifeguard is going to leave quickly. The lifeguard is handing over his shirt, which conveys the idea he is "handing over responsibility" of what happens to the woman. The boy is standing over the woman with one of his feet in between her legs leering down at her. His hand is outstretched over her to receive the shirt, and his shadow falls across her body. The dark clouds can be interpreted as impending trouble or danger.

This ad is clearly a perpetration of rape culture. There is absolutely nothing cute or funny about a boy trading a can of Pepsi for the right to sexually assault a woman. Nor is it funny to suggest that her autonomy and even her life (remember, she was dragged unconscious out of the ocean) are worth a can of Pepsi.

Pepsi has responded to complaints about this ad by stating that it was merely speculation work.

What do you think? Are images like this commonly found in advertising, and what does this say about our society?


  1. I am super glad you posted this, I think that this ad goes too far. I completely agree with your examination about rape culture.

    I cannot believe that pepsi would put out and an where the lifegaurd exchanges a shirt for a pepsi while a girl lies on the ground. It is sad that more people do not question ads like this and push for ads that are not blatanly offensive to women.

  2. This ad is disgusting. I think you did a very good job of analyzing the symbolism and hidden messages present. I'm so sick of stuff like this.

  3. this ad is not good for public display. it really does looks disturbing when you look at it closely.

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