Pepsi recently pulled what is being dubbed the "worst advert ever" after criticism from every single person in the world with a pair of eyes and access to the internet.
Kendall Jenner, our plucky privileged protagonist, does a reverse Hannah Montana and renders racism redundant by giving a policeman a can of Pepsi (which in turn, quenches his thirst for the blood of young unarmed black men).
In Pepsi's world, hundred-year-old tensions are defused by second-choice beverages. Here, protests are a festival of sorts, where pretty people smirk in the face of injustice and the appropriation of native American headdresses is replaced with the appropriation of historic marginalisation.
Since the whole thing plays out like the deluded fever dream of a bathes-in-bottled-water-rich white woman, it's perhaps fitting that it's fronted by Jenner.
The Kardashians love to commodify. Themselves, black bodies – why not activism? Kendall even throws a wig at 'The Help', a black woman, to join the party/protest in what I suppose was meant to evoke Martin Luther King Jnr instead of Marie Antoinette. And in a move so crass it errs on parody, it was released on the anniversary of his assassination.
Pepsi sheepishly responded to the initial backlash with a statement saying they wanted people from "different walks of life to come together". And they have – during one of the most divisive periods in recent history, Pepsi has managed to unify people from all sides of the political spectrum in their utter loathing of their very own commercial.
In its refusal to actually say anything (it features revellers raising placards asking people to "join the conversation" though no one knows quite what the conversation is about), they've managed to anger and alienate just about everyone.
The hatred is bi-partisan – Piers Morgan furiously tweeted it was "PC snowflake claptrap" whilst the so-called "snowflakes" he spoke of were practically rioting.
It's not surprising it got under the skin of the Black Lives Matter movement. It almost inferred all the shootings of innocent black men could have been avoided – had they offered a police a Pepsi and been white and rich and famous, which in fairness might actually be true. But it couldn't even catch a break from the pro-police Blue Lives Matter crowd it tried to appease, who are riled by what they believe to be thinly veiled anti-police statement.
The ad's brazen attempts to monetise causes it couldn't be more divorced from has made one of the most memorable adverts in history. But this is nothing new and not even surprising. It is the final form of a phenomenon that's been getting gradually worse over recent years — the continuous commodification of resistance movements. The ad is an attempt to flog a multi-billion dollar product using another multi-billion product, and they thought we wouldn't notice because it featured a woman in a hijab, and breakdancers.
If any good can come from the debacle, marketeers should take a giant step away from their attempts to cash in on causes. And we in turn must stop back-patting corporations for what is so often simply a cynical ploy to wrangle money out of what they perceive to be fashionable.
We know the current rise in "issue-based advertising" didn't suddenly occur because conglomerates suddenly gave a shit about life not being fair. It makes business sense. In a boardroom somewhere, an agency is asked about what the "cool kids care about" the answer is now undoubtedly "issues". And as any good businessman knows, the customer is always right.
Just look at today's feminism – it flies off the shelves. As with shirts emblazoned "bae" and "fleek", "We should all be feminists" shirts are donned by those who see it as no more than a buzzword, as opposed to a political stance.
It's easy to see how, since the word itself has been so thoroughly defanged. Corporate feminism has allowed those who are actively complicit in the oppression of women to lay claim to a cause that they are aggressively against, simply because they have vaginas ("Ivanka Trump might be silent in the face of her father's flagrant bigotry but hey, we all know she's the brains behind the flagrant bigotry!").
Beauty products have jumped on the body-positive bandwagon, telling women we look shit and great all at once and no-one even bats an eyelid. Is a canned drink being touted as the elixir of the revolution less sane than an anti-aging lotion being touted as the key to loving the wrinkling skin you're in?
The difference between Pepsi's marketing team and everyone else's is they were clearly cryogenically frozen in 1971, with Coke's Hilltop ad still ringing in their ears as they came to. They're out of touch and less savvy than the other hundreds of brands jumping on various bandwagons. It doesn't mean the rest are any better – simply smarter.
There are benefits to companies pretending they actually give a f**k about anything other than money, of course. Whitewashed films are flopping at the box office whilst their diverse counterparts flourish. Teen Vogue now writes about dismantling the patriarchy instead of dismantling young women's self-esteem.
Fuller-figured and racially diverse Barbies are providing much-needed representation to young girls. Businesses know it is detrimental to their earnings if they aren't diverse in advertising and if they're actively bigoted. But we must always remember that this is in their economic interests and as soon as it's not, they will no doubt revert to just how they were. Take Marvel for instance, who are already scapegoating diversity as the reason for their recent fall in sales.
We have to bear in mind that had Pepsi done a thoughtful, meaningful, tasteful advert, it wouldn't change the fact they in 2012 stopped their Refresh Project – a $20m social impact fund – in order to prioritise profits. Similarly, despite Dove's proclamations of self love, they continue to sell discriminatory skin-whitening creams in the parts of the world.
Brands are not "woke" – they're simply doing what makes economic sense and keeping up with what they deem to be fads and trends. The problem with fads and trends, however, is they're out as soon as they're in.
As soon as it's beneficial to go back to ignoring us all again they will, and probably with a deep sigh of relief.