Pepsi scraps can after some say it evokes 9/11

Customers complain graphic evokes terrorist attack; company tells 'Post' PepsicoArabia's Diet Pepsi portrays Dubai skyline, not WTC buildings.

December 20, 2011 11:02
2 minute read.
Pepsico can design

Pepsico can design 311. (photo credit: Courtesy/Facebook)


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The Pepsico corporation has nixed a special Diet Pepsi can design after customers complained that it invoked the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, leading to calls to boycott the company.

In an e-mail sent to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, a company spokesperson said that the design was meant to invoke the Dubai skyline, and that any offense caused was accidental.

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Opinion: Fighting terror, a decade after 9/11

“We understand from some of our consumers that a Diet Pepsi can designed and sold in the Middle East portraying the growth of active regional cities has been misinterpreted,” the e-mail stated. “We are sorry that some people found this design insensitive, which was never our intention as the graphics on this can were inspired by the Dubai skyline.

“As soon as this matter was brought to our attention in October, we immediately stopped production of the can and took action to change the design. The new can, which features an abstract design, is already in the Middle East market. All old designs will be replaced over the next few weeks.”

The controversy began this month when Rolando Martinez, whose Facebook page says he is a member of the Florida Army National Guard, posted a picture of the can on the social networking website with the note “today while in Iraq shutting down one of the bases there ironically enough I stumbled upon this can of Diet Pepsi. Take a close look at the picture and tell me the first thought that comes to your mind. Mine and many other of my brother-in-arms was not a pleasant one, so I just want to make sure we’re not biased. If you see the same thing I did, I will never ever buy another Pepsi product again, this is an insult.”

The photo quickly spread on Facebook and ignited a mini-viral controversy.

At first glance, the can’s design does appear to show two skyscrapers of about the same height with a plane flying overhead.

What appear to be two electric beams careen towards the skyscrapers, but then disappear into a cloud of bubbles. There is nothing on the erstwhile can design that proves it represents lower Manhattan.

Another controversy was faced by Pepsico in 1990, when a limited run of “cool cans” included one design that would spell out the world “sex” if you stacked two cans on top of one another and turned them.

Like with the Diet Pepsi “Urban Life” can that caused the Facebook brouhaha, the offending image was much easier to see if you already knew what to look for.

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