Last December, Beyonce closed a mega endorsement deal with PepsiCo reported at $50 million. The unprecedented agreement gave Beyonce considerable control over creative content in her role as pitch-person for the Fortune 43 international powerhouse.
The deal comes as PepsiCo struggles to grow its carbonated drink business in the United States; an important component of PepsiCo Americas Beverages unit that accounts for 34% of net revenues.
Since that deal, Beyonce has continued a path of the more outlandish the presentation, the better. And now, the highly hyped Mrs. Carter Show World Tour is set in-motion with Beyonce gracing the stage in her latest hoochie wear; a body suit that features her nipples protruding like she was either just leaving an intimate encounter or on her way to feeding a baby. Quite frankly, the stunt made Beyonce look more like a two-bit prostitute than a recording artist. And as the father of three promising girls, I would urge a frontal lobotomy on them for considering Beyonce any more than what she has become. A rather disgusting imitation of a role model, presidential inaugural appearance, notwithstanding.
With all of the issues confronting the black community, particularly, Beyonce might not be the source, but she is clearly not the path to redemption. I think it not strange that Beyonce is emerging as one of many misguided images after which society is redefining the black woman. Her stage performances are, in this manner, connected with the bed performances of Scandal’s Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington), who would have in times past been labeled “slut” or “whore” for actions that placed black women in the promiscuous stereotypes that “rationalized” them being routinely raped during chattel slavery. Indeed, as discussed in a recent article, Beyonce is a part of a broader cultural shift towards a Hoochie Nation.
It’s times like this that you have to wonder where we have gone wrong. The answer to me is abundantly clear. We, as a society, have created a highly sexualised environment for our children to grow up in and, as a consequence, we have normalised pornography and turned it into a must-see draw for our young. And now we are paying the price. I deplore the sexualisation of children. I see it as a modern-day crime with society as the perpetrator. Each time I write about the issue I receive letters from the same old brigade who tell me that we should just ‘accept and adjust’ to the way things are these days. They claim that childhood innocence is a myth and I should stop blaming various pop tarts for the corruption of our children. They usually end the letter by stating, rather obviously, that there has always been sex in the world.
One has to question whether a $65 billion brand giant like PepsiCo, or for that matter any major corporation, benefits from one of its iconic spokesperson taking every opportunity to spread her legs and feature her nipples while performing before impressionable young girls. Advertisers are brilliant at shaping public opinion. For instance, DeBeers advanced the market value of diamonds, not by selling their inherent value, but by driving home the idea that “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
In a recent discussion with an independent jeweler of 3 decades, he was surprised that I knew the Russians had stockpiled diamonds for years, keeping them off the market, and artificially driving-up the price of a mineral that is so plentiful that in certain parts of Africa, one can literally pick them up off the street! Yet, the DeBeers jingle worked and now consumers place a value on diamonds that is grossly inflated. Advertisers also leverage culture. They are as much anthropologists and sociologists as they are Wall Street MBAs. Hoochie-ism is real in America. And advertisers reflect it in marketing of everything from cars to security systems.
This, then, poses a question. Is Beyonce a creation of Wall Street in an effort to boost sales by aligning their products to America’s self-anointed “Hoochie-in-Chief”? Hence, a dream come true or marriage devised in corporate board rooms. Or is Beyonce’s trip to Slutville a commercial meltdown in the making?
The market will decide what to make of Beyonce. And in its decision, consumers will reveal the nature and skills of advertisers like PepsiCo. Beyonce’s hooker routine falls under the header of free expression as do the calls for [black] America to reject the artist Beyonce has become.
Ultimately, we must ask ourselves, “Have not the minds of America’s future wives, mothers, teachers, healthcare professionals and business leaders been assaulted enough, bombarded with imagery that influences their ideas and ideals of womanhood?”
Consequently, how we respond to Beyonce, says as much about us as it does about the recording artist and advertisers. If Beyonce’s celebrity lifts PepsiCo’s sales, then the corporate giant would have proven itself right about where we have arrived as a nation. If PepsiCo miscalculated the culture, it would respond to a very vocal public rejection of Beyonce’s elevated hoochie and its connection with PepsiCo brands.
Where have we arrived? Are we the Hoochie Nation I’ve described in the previous article? What this suggests is that PepsiCo is not so much shaping public opinion that we become a Hoochie Nation, but interpreting the prevailing culture for the benefit of its brands. It is up to us to decide whether PepsiCo has read or mis-read the tea leaves.
For the sake of reclaiming our future, is it time to put Beyonce in the same category that the public readily placed Body Count after its Cop Killer song? If Imus’ words demeaned black women, how much more do misogynistic antics of Beyonce — ironically a self-proclaimed feminist? The public let its voice be known in the Cop Killer and Imus controversies Perhaps, time is long overdue to send a message to advertisers that their brands are damaged when connected to Beyonce Knowles. PepsiCo has demonstrated its capacity to respond having recently dropped Lil Wayne from its Mountain Dew advertisements after the artist wrecklessly referred to slain 15-year old Emmett Till in his remix of Future’s Karate Chop. PepsiCo responded responsibly then and it can respond responsibly again.
So what do you think?
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