| Pepsi has once again become the center of a controversy
in Middle East politics. The story begins in 1966 when Coca-Cola Company was
placed on the official Arab blacklist for opening a bottling plant in Israel.
As a result, Pepsi became the dominant soft-drink vendor in the Arab world
which resulted in a boycott of Pepsi products globally, especially in the
The Pepsi boycott grew exponentially in June of 1967 when
Israel was attacked by Arab nations in an attempt to completely destroy Israel,
a war in which Israel dealt a major blow to the Arab world in what became known
as the Six Day War. Although the Arab leaders claimed victory to their own
constituents at the time, it became known in Arabic as "An-Naksah",
or "The Setback". In the US, Pepsi lost too.
"Boycott Pepsi" bumper stickers could be seen
throughout the 1970's and into the early 1980's, and eventually the soft-drink
boycott war subsided when Pepsi products became available in Israel. Now that
Pepsi is available in Israel, it has come under attack by Muslims who now claim
the name PEPSI Stands for "Pay Every Pence to Save Israel" as
evidenced by this
video from www.MEMRI.org.
Boycott Watch has recently received several emails from
people who are upset, not that Pepsi is sold in the Arab world, but
specifically because Pepsi is now seen as sponsoring soccer (football) games in
Gaza, where Hamas is the elected government. Hamas, as you may recall, has been
by the US State Department as a terrorist organization . Boycott Watch
wants to know why a US company is doing business with known terrorists and will
be forwarding this report to appropriate US agencies, asking them that very
Americans have been outraged when discovering Americans
companies are conduction business in Iran which is also on the
US list of states
sponsoring terrorism, demanding an
to the practice.
Just the same, many Americans are now upset to discover a US
company is sponsoring sporting events of
regimes. As you can see on these thumbnail photos from the Pal Times, Pepsi
is clearly a major sponsor of the event in which
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh officially opened.
|Left, Hamas Prime Minister with a team in official Pepsi
sponsorship jerseys. Notice the giant inflatable Pepsi can in the background.
Center, Custom signage showing Pepsi as the event sponsor. Right, large
inflatable in front of a mural of the Hamas Prime Minister. (Click to enlarge
|Left, Hamas Prime Minister practicing with players wearing
the Pepsi logo on the opposing teams colors. Notice the official Pepsi
sidelines graphics. Center, the Qatar and Hamas delegation with the official
Hamas logo depicting Israel removed and replaced by Hamas. Right, official
Hamas dedication ceremony for the event.
Boycott Watch contacted Pepsi and asked: "Why is Pepsi
sponsoring sporting events for groups listed as terrorists by the US State
Department?" Pepsi responded with "Pepsi does not sponsor any
football teams in Gaza. In this case, the local independent bottler producing
Pepsi arranged for promotional activities to take place at a football event
involving 30 local community teams. Football is a global marketing platform for
Pepsi and the brand is associated with the sport around the world."
Boycott Watch points out the fact that the response from
Pepsi lied in their response. This was not a "football event involving 30
local community teams" as Pepsi claimed. It was in fact a game against the
team from Qatar and diplomats from Qatar were present. It was an international
event featuring government officials and the photos in the reports prove that.
The Pepsi statement also contains double-talk by first saying "Pepsi does
not sponsor any football teams in Gaza" then "Pepsi and the brand is
associated with the sport around the world."
In response, Boycott Watch asked: "The name on the
event, including signage and large inflatables, is Pepsi, not the name of any
bottling company. How do you explain that?" Pepsi responded: "As I
mentioned, the Pepsi brand is associated with the sport of football (soccer)
around the world. In this case, the local bottler arranged for promotional
activities for the brand to take place at a soccer competition in the
Still, Boycott Watch was a little confused by the answer
from Pepsi because the signage and inflatables are items that would have been
custom made for such large stadium events. Let's face it. You see the exact
same banners at sporting events, so there is little doubt the signage was
ordered directly from Pepsi and not made by the local bottling company. Boycott
Watch asked Pepsi "If Pepsi had no intent to be the actual sponsor, why
did the local bottler have such a large supply of Pepsi stadium graphics and
inflatables?" Pepsi had no answer but we pressed on.
Boycott Watch was beyond fair. We waited nearly six days for
Pepsi to answer our three questions via email, so Pepsi had plenty of time to
think about their answers. That was far beyond the time any company gets to
reply to questions. Even still, we decided to give Pepsi yet another chance at
answering the question about the supply of inflatables and stadium graphics, as
that is key to understanding if Pepsi was in fact the event sponsor or not.
In the end, Pepsi had no answer to the questions about why
giant inflatables made for stadiums and stadium-type signage were provided to
promote events of a US recognized terrorist organization. When we asked Pepsi
about this one final time, the response was "I keep coming back to the
points in my original reply, so I'm ok with you going with that."
"Pepsi clearly lied about the events being local
only" said Fred Taub, President of Boycott Watch and author of the book
Boycotting Peace. "As long as
Pepsi is "OK" with us "going with that," Pepsi clearly has
no qualms with Boycott Watch stating Pepsi is in fact sponsoring sporting
events ran by a US recognized terrorist organization as evidenced by the
Pepsi-supplied promotional materials in that sponsorship. The promotional items
sent to Hamas in Gaza are not basic advertising signage. It is all made
specifically made for large stadium events."
Boycott Watch concludes, therefore, that Pepsi is in fact
the sponsor of Hamas sports.