Kendall Jenner's Pepsi commercial left the world wondering if anyone producing it stopped and thought, "Hey, maybe this isn't such a great idea."
But a couple weeks later, Heineken is the latest company to try to bridge divides in an ad called "Worlds Apart." The overarching theme and question is: "Is there more that unites us than divides us?"
In the commercial, strangers, with starkly diverging political opinions, meet up — a transgender woman and a man who doesn't believe in trans rights, a feminist and an anti-feminist, a climate change denier and a fervent believer — each not knowing the beliefs of the other. They get to know each other, casually, as they build bar stools and a bar together.
By the end of the tasks, their political beliefs are revealed in a projected video and they have the option to either stay, have a beer and discuss, or leave. Each person decides to stay and the couples open up to each other about their experiences and how it led them to their political stances. The ad attempts to send the message: whether one's views are far right or far left, there is humanity.
However, at the end of the day, Heineken is trying to sell beer. Of course, the actors stay to engage, they're getting paid.
In the ad, Heineken presents the strangers' difference in opinions as equal. But there is nothing equal about a trans woman who believes in her right to be and a man who does not. Is there harmony to be found in engaging someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum, if their own politics are based on denying your humanity in the first place?
"Open your world," the commercial concludes. It's a better message than "Pepsi can can cure systematic racism," but it still falls short of understanding the depth and core of current resistance movements.
Heineken's attempt to "unite us" just feels like four plus minutes of All Lives Matter. In general, companies should really think twice before trivializing marginalized people's fight for livelihood in the name of selling, well, anything.