Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Michael Jackson devastated fans worldwide when he died tragically at the age of 50 -- but at least he can still do Pepsi commercials. Wait, what?
The Wall Street Journal reports that PepsiCo has struck a deal to use the King of Pop's image in a new ad campaign. Timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his Bad album, the promotions will reportedly include a TV ad featuring Jackson, special downloadable remixes of Bad tracks, and collectible Pepsi cans that show Jackson "striking one of his iconic poses."
Does this idea make anybody else uncomfortable?
Jackson, of course, was a Pepsi spokesperson from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. (Watch two of his memorable TV spots in the video below.) While he represented the brand for more than 10 years, the partnership was also responsible for one of the great tragedies of his life: a fire that engulfed his head during a commercial shoot in 1984. Jackson's addiction to painkillers (which eventually led to his death) is often traced back to his recovery from the accident.
But Jackson's checkered history with Pepsi isn't really the issue here. Rather, it's the fact that he didn't authorize this particular ad campaign, and yet he's the face of it. It's not like advertisers haven't used the images of deceased celebrities before; there was that Dirt Devil commercial starring Fred Astaire, and that Gap ad using footage of Audrey Hepburn. But those celebrities experienced their heyday more than 50 years ago, and died after long, fulfilling lives. Jackson died three years ago, and fans are still mourning his early passing. Is it really ethical for Michael Jackson's estate to leverage that grief into selling soda cans?
Even more questionable, Jackson's brothers are reportedly considering sending him on tour as a hologram, a la Tupac Shakur at Coachella. The Jackson family's eagerness to make money off their late brother is a bit disturbing. How can Jackson rest in peace if his family won't even let him rest?
By the way, the name of the new Pepsi campaign that Jackson will star in? "Live for Now." Seriously.