Unleashing the code in Code Red

Pepsi’s racist marketing campaigns aim at breaking into “urban” audiences.

As part of their “all-encompassing” marketing campaign geared toward “the urban and ethnic,” specifically blacks and Latinos, Pepsi has launched a demeaning promotion for its product Code Red.

The word minority officially has become the category of the other – basically, all who are not white. This categorization paves the way for a slew of stereotypes to materialize that easily can be applied to all. The “minority” comes to represent the ethnic and the urban.

With the application of “conventional wisdom,” Pepsi decided it needed to sweeten its drink because nonwhites prefer “sweet and fruity” flavors. Not only is this kind of logic ridiculous, but conventional wisdom is hardly science or fact. Furthermore, the marketing of this product was equally distasteful.

Pepsi made use of the radio after learning that “urban audiences” spend an hour longer listening to the radio than other audiences. Pepsi’s genius experts then came to the conclusion that urban youths must have an intense connection with their music, as if “urban teens” are the only youths in this country who feel connected to the music they consume.

Pepsi’s racism is evident in the practice of reducing people to a set of knowable traits and putting entire categories of people into a certain blocs. The ignorant assumption is that all Latinos and black people are the same: They all come from the global south, so they must have the same taste for music, food and everything else. These assumptions are mere fallacies that are increasing stereotypes. None of Pepsi’s claims are conventional wisdom; they are only large generalizations and oversimplifications made about entire groups of people. What is worse is that the company assumes these traits are naturally existing in all members of a given society.

Racism in marketing often is overlooked, but nothing makes this type of racism different from others. As long as people condone this type of behavior, they are consenting to it and accepting this practice as a societal norm. Racism is something that should outrage; it should never be normalized.