The product: Pepsi
The premise: Janelle Monae! Janelle Monae is a national treasure as she drinks Pepsi and dances her way through the eras, from the Contours’ “Do You Love Me” to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” to the Electric Lady’s own Pepsi jingle. As others have pointed out, Madonna is an especially interesting choice here: The brand famously feuded with the artist over her “Like a Prayer” Pepsi commercial, which was pulled because of controversy over religious imagery in the “Like a Prayer” music video.
The verdict: This is a classic, archetypal Pepsi commercial. It’s a return to the aughts, when the brand’s commercials were filmed on epic soundstages with backup dancers and that classic jingle. It recaptures the energy of Britney Spears’ “Joy of Pepsi” ad, and it’s inter-generational like the brand’s 2009 Super Bowl commercial with Bob Dylan and Will.i.am. But it’s a direct reference to Spears’ 2001 “Pepsi Generation” ad, another romp-through-the-ages with a bright young star. It’s not as ambitious as that commercial was, but there’s something sweetly old-fashioned about an ad that just puts a product in the hands of a star and lets her dance.