The young brand spokesman, who has appeared in 7UP's ongoing campaign, addresses the camera, "They say if you're going to sell something, get yourself a captive audience." Then the cell door closes in front of him -- he's in a prison.
He walks down the aisle, putting cans of the soft drink into eager hands sticking out of the cell doors. As he drops a can, he starts to bend over but then laughs and says, "Ooo, I'm not picking that
up" -- a reference to male rape. (No matter that he's safely on the other side of the bars.)
He walks past a man in his cell, slipping the soda can into a sock and says to him, "Hiding from your roomie? That's not nice."
Then he's in the lunchroom with many of the prisoners, who begin a brawl. Then sitting down in a detention room, we see a man's knuckles tatooed with the letters "Evil Ways," then the camera pans to the left and the spokesman's knuckles show, in yellow lettering, "Lem'n Lime" (The word "lemon" is one letter too long.) The spokesman, with mock seriousness, says, "I'm just trying to fit in."
The commercial closes with him sitting on the edge of a bed in a cell next to a heavily tattooed prisoner with his arm around him. Cheerfully, he says, "When you bring the 7UP, everyone is your friend!" But he quickly adds to his mate, "That's enough being friends." Then to the departing camera man he says, "Hey, where are you going?"
The tagline: "Make 7UP yours" -- originally a sophomoricly joking reference to the insult "up yours," and in this context seemingly also a reference to being "owned" in prison by another man.
This ad was quickly targeted by the Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) organization, and nearly 100 other human rights, HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence groups. The commercial was withdrawn almost as quickly by the company.
"This commercial was perpetuating the kind of callousness that allows sexual abuse to continue in so many prisons virtually unchecked," said executive director of SPR Lara Stemple.
SPR said in a press release that Philippa Dworkin, VP of corporate communications for Dr Pepper/Seven Up, told Stemple that the ad would be taken off the air in response to the protest.
"We're very glad to hear that 7UP has decided to stop sending out the message that it's okay to laugh about rape when it involves people in prison. No corporation would make jokes about rape outside of the prison context," Stemple stated.
"We really have listened to them. Their points are very valid and we are with them on human rights," Dworkin told Cybercast News Service, CNSNEWS.com.