Sep 14, 2023 2 min read

Madonna pleased that Pepsi is now celebrating her cancelled ad from 1989

Madonna has thanked Pepsi for re-broadcasting her cancelled ‘Like A Prayer’ ad from 1989 as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations

Madonna pleased that Pepsi is now celebrating her cancelled ad from 1989

Madonna has thanked Pepsi for putting the spotlight back on an advert she made with the company all the way back in 1989 around the release of 'Like A Prayer'.

Pepsi is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary and, as part of all that, has posted to YouTube a number of its old pop star fronted adverts, including those featuring Madonna, Britney Spears, Tina Turner, Robert Palmer and Ray Charles. Two of them, the Madonna and Britney ads, were also aired during this week's MTV Video Music Awards.

Announcing that plan earlier this month, Pepsi's Chief Marketing Officer Todd Kaplan said: "Over the years, Pepsi has clearly established itself as an innovative brand with a deep heritage of 'firsts' in music - from inventing the first-ever marketing jingle to being the first brand to turn commercials into music videos. So, as we celebrate Pepsi's 125th birthday, it is only fitting that we partner with the MTV Video Music Awards to celebrate some of the most iconic Pepsi music videos from our past".

The Madonna advert is the most notable of the bunch because of the controversy it caused when it aired in 1989.

The ad itself - which sees Madonna reliving childhood memories and dancing in the street, all soundtracked to the then new 'Like A Prayer’ - is not in itself controversial. But Pepsi was more generally involved in the launch of that track and the follow-on tour, and therefore got caught up in the controversy that surrounded the official 'Like A Prayer' video.

The religious imagery in that video caused outrage among Christian groups around the world, with the Vatican and the American Family Association among those going very public with their outrage. Calls to ban the video extended to calls to boycott Madonna's big brand partner, resulting in Pepsi quickly pulling the advert.

Madonna got to keep the $5 million Pepsi had paid her for the brand partnership though, and such a major global brand being being pulled into the big old hoo haa around her music video only enhanced the marketing value of the controversy.

Commenting on Pepsi broadcasting the 1989 ad again, Madonna wrote on X: "34 years ago I made a commercial with Pepsi to celebrate the release of my song 'Like A Prayer'. The commercial was immediately canceled when I refused to change any scenes in the ['Like A Prayer' music] video where I was kissing a black saint or burning crosses".

"So began my illustrious career as an artist refusing to compromise my artistic integrity", she added. "Thank you Pepsi for finally realising the genius of our collaboration".

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