This 2011 super bowl advertisement is distasteful for a number of reasons. Firstly it targets the female audience with their ‘low calorie’ Pepsi max drink. Targeting a low calorie drink at women could be viewed as sexist and enforces stereotypes, suggesting women must watch their weight and by doing so this empowers them in their relationship.
Secondly Pepsi attempts to use humour to catch the attention of the audience, it does so by trying to make violence comical however connotations of domestic violence come to mind when watching this ad. If the roles of the two characters in the advert were reversed and the man was violent to his girlfriend, the advert would not be permitted to be aired. The advert suggests a certain amount of acceptability towards violence because it is a women carrying out the actions.
A study by Brown, Bhadury and Pope (2010) assessed the impact of comedic violence like that used in the Pepsi advert, on advertising effectiveness. They created 4 viral message conditions, a high intensity severe consequences advert, high intensity moderate consequences and the same with low intensity adverts. They were then asked to rate the consequences, intensity and humour of the 4 adverts. They found that overall higher levels of violence intensity and more severe consequences lead to greater involvement with the ad, better retention of the brand information and greater likability of the advert. However attitudes towards the brand remained unaffected. They also found justification for the violence and relatedness to the product brand were important considerations in its effectiveness. Therefore it can be argued the advert itself may be remembered, however the audience are no more likely to buy a Pepsi max because the advert has no justification for the violence and it has no relation to the Pepsi brand.
Brown, M., Bhadury, K., & Pope, N. (2010). The impact of comedic violents on viral advertising effectiveness. Journal of Advertising, 39, 39-65.