A new advertisement for the soft drink Sprite has aired, putting a new spin on the recent wave of dissent. The commercial seems to be a response to Pepsi’s recent “protest” ad featuring Kendall Jenner extending a Pepsi can to a police officer overseeing a peaceful protest. Pepsi’s ad was widely criticized for being “tone-deaf” and trivializing social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter. Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and issued an apology.
Sprite’s ad, however, took a different take on portrayals of protest. In the new ad, masked “black bloc” protesters are shown joyfully sipping the refreshing citrus-flavored soda while smashing a police car with baseball bats and lighting it aflame. As militarized riot police approach the dissidents, they respond by lobbing Molotov cocktails fashioned from Sprite bottles.
Sprite, which is manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company, seems to be taking an unapologetically political stance. “After seeing how much everyone hated that bland Pepsi commercial, we believed it was necessary for us to show the true anger of the people,” said Jacqueline Sireen, a PR representative of Coca-Cola. “Sprite’s message is to ‘Obey Your Thirst’ - but not an unjust regime.”
The company is promoting the new ad campaign on social media networks under the hashtag #SpriteBack.
The ad has faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Leftist groups condemned the ad for co-opting an anti-capitalist movement for the sake of marketing. Conservatives and other right-wing commentators have called for a boycott of Sprite and other Coke products, claiming that it promotes violence against law enforcement.
“Sprite may be delicious and refreshing, but all the same, it is part of the violent capitalist system that exploits proletarian labor,” said Eugene Morendo, a self-described anti-fascist. “I don’t get why corporations keep thinking they can be the face of the Resistance. They are inherently our enemy.”
People with right and left-wing political leanings have taken to social media to condemn the ad and overwhelm the campaign’s hashtag with negative messages.
“Make no mistake, Sprite - this is war, unequivocally,” wrote Twitter user @GunPatriot18. Attached to the Tweet is a picture of a Sprite can riddled with bullet holes in front of an American flag.
Coca-Cola has not yet responded to critiques of the radical commercial.