I am so addicted to Diet Pepsis that I once had a boss who, concerned about my caffeine intake, tried to get me to stop.
She failed, but PepsiCo president Indra Nooyi has succeeded — after reading about Ms. Nooyi’s remarks at Columbia University commencement exercises for MBAs, I vow never to drink another Diet Pepsi.
Powerline posted Ms. Nooyi’s remarks (as recounted by a student who was present):
“After talking of her childhood back in India, Ms. Nooyi began to compare the world and its five major continents (excl. Antarctica and Australia) to the human hand. First was Africa — the pinky finger — small and somewhat insignificant but when hurt, the entire hand hurt with it. Next was Asia – the thumb — strong and powerful, yearning to become a bigger player on the world stage. Third was Europe — the index finger — pointing the way. Fourth was South America — the ring finger — the finger which symbolizes love and sensualness.
“Finally, the US (not Canada mind you) — yes, you guessed it — the middle finger. She then launched into a diatribe about how the US is seen as the middle finger to the rest of the world. The rest of the world sees us as an overbearing, insensitive and disrespectful nation that gives the middle finger to the rest of the world. According to Ms. Nooyi, we cause the other finger nations to cower under our presence.
“But it is our responsibility, she continues, to change the current state of world opinion of the US. It is our responsibility to make the other fingers rise in unison with us as we move forward. She then goes on to give a personal anecdote about some disrespectful US business women in an Asian country and how that is typical of Americans overseas.
“No talk of what the US has done for the world throughout its history. No discussion about the ills that have been cured and the rights that have been wronged by the US. Just how wrong we are for the way we are perceived and how right they are in their own perceptions of the United States.”
Needless to say, Pepsi has tried to do damage control. As Powerline puts it, Pepsi’s “moving finger writes and, having writ, erases, rewrites and attempts to move on.” Ms. Nooyi has: blamed the listeners for misconstruing her remarks, blamed herself for “unintentionally” putting the U.S. in a bad light, and apologized. Take your pick.