A can found in a chow-line in Iraq is stirring up a lot of controversy here back home. The can of Pepsi (which I call the “9/11 can“) seems to have an image on it that depicts the World Trade Centers on the day of the attack of 9/11. There are a lot of people running from website to website trying to claim it’s not 9/11 and that instead it’s one of 7 special cans Pepsi Dubai created for the anniversary of their 40 years of being in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, over at Above Top Secret someone named Brian put together their first ever “news recap” video in which they seem to be reading directly from a Pepsi PR statement about the can and they make that very claim. That’s bunk. Below, I have posted Pepsi’s own promotional photo of those 7 cans and the “9/11 can” is nothing like them.
Also after the break, I have shown you with simple outlines of the buildings in the sky line, the image of the “9/11 can” next to iconic images of the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attacks.
There is no question that the image on the can is indeed meant to remind you of the WTC and 9/11.
Marketing professionals communicate to their target market through images that reflect emotional connections therefore the use of iconic images is pretty common. When you understand that cola itself is not as popular in Arab nations because it is associated with the U.S. and their imperialist aggression toward Muslim countries, what better way is there for Pepsi Dubai to show their target market that they aren’t part of the Western imperialist agenda than to have an image on the side of their product depicting the most iconic strike against that very same imperialist nation?
If you watch the prepared statement being read by “Brian” over at ATS the first thing you will notice is a clear legal disclaimer; “This special edition Pepsi can was launched for the 40th anniversary of Dubai being part of the UAE, the United Arab Emirates. Dubai Refreshments is the sole franchise, manufacturer, and distributor of Pepsi products in Dubai.”. What that is is Pepsi’s attempt to make it clear that if this tactic of claiming this image is something that it is not does not work, then they are going to distance themselves from the use of the image, making it solely the responsibility of Dubai Refreshments. It’s pre-emptive damage control.
Is it possible that Pepsi as an multinational corporation gave the approval of using this image on their product in countries that are not favorable of the United States in order to boost sales in those regions while all the time assuming that they could manipulate the story back here at home with minimal costs and effort? Would someone stoop that low in the cola-wars in order to get a jump on the customer base in these new developing markets? My guess would be yes.
The answer to the question of “why would Pepsi do something like this?” is just as easy as any other question pertaining to base and disgusting practices of corporate America these days; money. And lots of it. You think Pepsi is the only company to look to use 9/11 to turn a profit?
Let’s look at the image itself and put to bed the notion that it is not meant to remind you of 9/11.
First, it’s not one of the 7 cans created by Dubai Refreshments depicting the historic landmarks in the 7 different nations that make up the UAE, no matter what the Pepsi statement that “Brian” over at ATS says.
Not only is the artwork style much different, but you will notice that the 7 cans show a very specific landmark in the UAE. The image on the “9/11 can” is nothing like any of them and I dare anyone to attempt to tell me what SPECIFIC landmark in the UAE the “9/11 can” represents.
Second, there are multiple images on the “9/11 can” that are iconic in our collective memory of 9/11 and the World Trade Centers. Take a look first at what I consider some of the most iconic and well recognized images relating to that day.
1. World Trade Center a landmark of the New York skyline (notice the relationship of the buildings in the foreground to the towers, the white lines in the corners of the buildings, the location of building 7 between the towers, the water in front of the skyline itself.)
2. Twin Towers burning (notice the direction the smoke is blowing (north to south) and how it partially obscures the top of the south tower)
3. plane approaches south tower (notice the angle and inclination of the plane and the angle of the shot taken of it. Also notice while the north tower burns and the smoke obscures the south tower, the plane is flying toward the south tower)
Now take a look at the “9/11” Pepsi can itself. You will see all of the iconic images listed above included in the “clip art” style image.
Below is a compilation of the “9/11 can” image and the others listed above.
I don’t think there is any question as to what this image on the side of the Pepsi can represents. You have deliberate misinformation being peddled about the 7 commemorative cans, you have the same aspect ratio of the smaller buildings in front of the Towers, you have the water line in front of the sky line, you have what appears to be smoke on the can (darker outlined area) blowing from north to south and partially obscuring the top of the south tower, and you have an image of what appears to be a plane that definitely resembles the image we all associate with Flight 175 hitting the south tower.
When people see this image they have an immediate visceral reaction to it. Read what a soldier in Iraq thought of when he first found the can in his mess hall. It’s his photo of the can that started all of this.
Yesterday, for some odd reason I looked–I mean I really LOOKED–at the subtle “clip art” on the background of the can.
And I did a double take. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…
I examined the can for several minutes while my food grew cold, wondering if my eyes were deceiving me. But there was no getting around it. To either side of the Pepsi logo, there was an image of a jet airliner over tall buildings. Looking at the image, I couldn’t help but think it alluded to 9/11.
Three other soldiers were sitting with me at my table. One of the other soldiers asked what I was looking at so hard. Instead of answering, I handed him the can and said, “Look at the artwork on this can. Do you see what I see?”
He looked. His eyes grew wide. He turned the can from side to side. The other soldiers at the table looked, too. None of us said anything. The phrase “9/11” never passed from our lips. We could LOOK at each other and understand we all saw the same thing, a “sneaky allusion to 9/11.” John Hoff
That’s how marketing and iconic imagery works; it communicates to us on a subconscious level, creating an emotional connection to the product.
The only question that remains is “why?” Why would Pepsi risk angering the public in the states by allowing this image to be attached to their product in countries that are predominately opposed to US foreign policy?
Pepsi will work very hard to keep this story under wraps but once it’s out, as in the case of ATS, they will then move on to their second stage of spin claiming that it’s nothing more than one of the 7 cans that I showed you it is clearly not.