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LOS ANGELES - The death of Michael Jackson is likely to spark some flashbacks for those who remember when pop was king, and Jackson was the "King of Pop"--and a powerful pitchman for franchisor Pepsi.
Jackson had a huge impact on media, and on advertising. His Pepsi commercial was a sensation when it aired in 1983, and set the pattern for the Pepsi commercials becoming events in themselves, with significant media attention. The perspective of history may give a creepy aspect to the video of the young boy idolizing Jackson, but in 1983 it was a huge hit and a boon to Pepsi bottlers worldwide.
By 1989, Coke entered the fray with a George Michael commercial, but Pepsi still won out with a $5 Million (in 1989 dollars) commercial that was more famous for being pulled off the air after just two showings-- Madonna's Like A Prayer video sponsored by Pepsi.
The 1989 Pepsi commercial by Madonna was and remains revolutionary, but there is no doubt that it never would have been made if not for Michael Jackson's pathbreaking 1983 commercial. Twenty years later, it may be difficult for younger viewers to understand why the commercial was so scandalous, but much of the controversy involved not the commerical itself but the video, which was a commentary on racism and Christianity in America.
Regarding Mr. Jackson's passing, a Pepsi spokesperson told Blue MauMau, "His music helped us define a generation and, like everyone else, we're deeply saddened by his passing."
Certainly any retrospective of Michael Jackson must account for the less-savory aspects of his life. But from a franchise perspective, his place in franchise and advertising history is assured.