Pepsi and Madonna share never-before-seen commercial that was canceled 34 years go
In 1989, Madonna starred in a Pepsi commercial that never saw the light of day – until now. The star shared the commercial on Instagram, saying that 34 years after it was canceled, Pepsi was finally revealing the spot.
Madonna said that before the commercial could premiere, her “Like a Prayer” music video came out – and proved controversial.
“The commercial was immediately canceled when I refused to change any scenes in the video where I was kissing a black saint or burning crosses,” she wrote on Instagram. “So began my illustrious career as an artist refusing to compromise my artistic integrity.”
“Thank you [Pepsi] for finally realizing the genius of our collaboration,” she wrote. “Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
“Like A Prayer” was Madonna’s fourth album, featuring hits like “Express Yourself” and “Cherish.” The music video for the titular single featured actor Leon Robinson, who is Black, playing a saint-like figure in a church.
In the video, Madonna witnesses a White woman get killed by White men, but the Black man she is in a relationship with is arrested for the murder. Madonna hides in a church, where she meets the saint and kisses him.
Many condemned the video, which also employed several religious symbols, such as a crucifix.
The Vatican even urged a boycott of her tour. “I am aware that the Vatican and certain communities are accusing my show of being sinful and blasphemous, that they are trying to keep people from seeing it,” Madonna said at the time, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I think I’m offending certain groups, but I think that people who really understand what I’m doing aren’t offended by it.”
Pepsi famously nixed its ad featuring the song before it premiered. “It may go down as one the most expensive advertising blunders ever,” Entertainment Tonight host John Tesh reported at the time.
Despite the backlash, Madonna continued to push the envelope. And Pepsi continued to feature stars in its ads. The brand, celebrating its 125th anniversary, has been sharing those star-studded commercials on social media, including spots with Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Robert Palmer and Britney Spears. And of course, Madonna.
The never-before-seen ad was also shared by Pepsi on Instagram. It shows Madonna singing “Like A Prayer,” in front of a neon Pepsi sign, and holding a can of the soda.
Both Madonna’s and Pepsi’s sharing of the ad was praised and questioned by commenters. “AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!” Andy Cohen commented.
“This song changed my life,” wrote Diplo.
On Pepsi’s post, several commenters said the brand should apologize to the singer. “Alright, are they going to make up for the global boycott they had against her?” one person wrote. “Nearly 10 years of injustice in awards and advertising deals? What makes me feel at ease is knowing she’s always been right and, in fact, ‘ahead of her time and a thousand years ahead of yours.”
“After such a long time??? Don’t you think you should apologise for the way you treated her?!?” another wrote.
“The Queen deserves this and an apology,” another commented.
CBS News has reached out to a representative for Pepsi and is awaiting response.