Pepsi recently came under fire for a commercial portraying Kendall Jenner solving the problem of police violence by handing a cop an ice cold can of soda at a Black Lives Matter protest. According to a recent article that quotes UO history professor Daniel Pope, it’s simply the latest development in a long history of corporations trying to manipulate consumers by being “woke.”
“Since the early 20th century, there’s been a substantial amount of corporate advertising that’s basically designed for many purposes,” Pope said. “They stress themes of nationalism or anti-governmental regulation, or point out during wartime the contribution of the company to the war effort.”
Nowadays, ads are more likely to latch onto social causes, like environmentalism or LBGTQ+ rights, than to a nationalistic image because millennials and Generation Zers are more conscious of what effect their purchases may have on the world.
“Most advertising today is less about claims of the particular product,” Pope said. “It’s the user rather than the product. … These are political interventions, but they’re also interventions to get into a demographic that they hope to sell to.”
For more, see “A Brief History of ‘Woke’ Advertising” on POPSUGAR.com.
Pope has been a professor at the UO since 1973. He has served as the head of the history and speech departments, a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee and in the University Senate. His research delves into the history of advertising and its effect on culture.