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Pepsi/Lays - Buffer Zone

Company: PepsiCo
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Brand: Pepsi/Lays
Ad Title: Buffer Zone
Business Category: Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: BBDO Worldwide
Year: 2003
Target: Mainstream
Ad Spotter: Darrell Grant
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Four guys are crowded in front of a TV as they watch a football game. Each of them struggles not to get too close to the other or touch, with a few glares when things get too close -- such as when one fellow reaches for a potato chip behind his buddy, or two grab a soda simultaneously.

Many viewers will notice a remarkable similarity to a 2001 Heineken commercial called "The Male Bonding Incident".

But after all the posturing, when a winning play is made, the men enthusiastically hug each other, even slap another's butt.

The tagline for this double-branded ad for Lays and Pepsi (which owns Lays): "It's not whether you win or lose...It's how you watch the game."

The joke of course is on irony of the social standards American men keep: they cannot so much as touch one another -- except when it has to do with sports and winning. Despite the negative handling of the concept of homosexuality, the ad clearly makes fun of the social customs that bind straight men and raises awareness by joking about them.

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David , Vancouver
I disagree with the standards applied to these ads ". . . often use fear of same-sex attraction (homophobia) or "inappropriate" gender behavior -- accompanied by a horrific reaction by someone straight -- as their source of humor." To me, that kind of humour makes fun of the homophobic behaviour. The joke is on the narrow-minded, not on us non-homophobe and in-the-know viewers. I don't see how it could be otherwise.

Ed , Ferndale, MI
The ad is hilarious. Lighten up.

Daniel Horowitz , Springfield, CA
The commercial is not bashing homosexuals at all, in fact it's making fun of the people that are homophobic. It's pointing out how ironic that men will hug eachother about the winning touchdown but shy away from touching another guys hand. This actually is a commercial that is against homophobic people. It's good.

Max , Antioch, CA
This ad does not seem bad or good to me. To me this ad seems neutral.

FDK , Westwood, NJ
This ad is hilarious! The whole point of it is to show the insane hypocrisy that macho straight guys have when it comes to same-sex physical contact!

Tony Phillips , Chicago
I'm ambivalent. I thought it was funny, mocking straight men's overwhelming homophobic fear of touching, until the tag line: "It's how you watch the game." Clearly Pepsi doesn't approve of men touching each other, even accidentally.

Earl , Palm Springs, CA
Once again the dread negative on an ad that has humor, a good point to make about the double standard of male affection, and it seems to me is NOT negative to the ideal of homo-liberation. I have written about this before and have had 'it' -- the award of the negative -- explained ad nauseum by the powers that be on this site but I still do not get it. How about a big fat plus for this sensitive and right on ad?

John , Detroit
What's really stupid about this ad is that there are only two bottles of soda... to be shared by four guys? I'm sure it's because there are only two bags of chips as well... and the idiot ad execs must have maintained that there had to be equal amounts of product in the shot. Of course, if the guys were sharing soda, they wouldn't have a problem about grabbing the bottle at the same time, would they? A dumb ad.

Clint , Thunder Bay, Canada
The ad did feature homophobia at the start. However, at the end, the average person may have been left with the suggestion that the homophobia was hypocritical and meaningless. I believe that was the intent of the ad. I also do understand why some people do not find any representation of homophobia amusing. I don't believe the Heineken ad linked in the overview is too similar. That ad had a much less clear intent to be critical of the homophobia it featured, if it had that intent at all.

Erich , Mandeville, LA
Jeez...what does it take for an ad to get a positive rating on this site? I'm glad that I'm not as easily offended as the people who run this site.

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