JDI IN THE NEWS - 2002

7 Up Pulls Prison Rape Ad, Zap2it.com, May 24, 2002.

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - For the first time in its 73-year history, the makers of the 7 Up soft drink have pulled a TV commercial off the air based on criticisms that it contained objectionable content, reports Reuters.

The decision to yank the commercial came after complaints sprouted up from a convicts rights group which disliked the spot's allusions to jail rape.

The cancelled commercial is set in prison and features the drink's spokesman Godfrey pitching the drink to inmates. At one point, Godfrey walks down a row of cells and hands a can of the drink to each prisoner. When he accidentally drops one though, he remarks, "I'm not picking that up."

In the spot's final shot, Godfrey is shown inside a cell with a burly-looking inmate who has his arm draped around him.

"When you drink 7 Up, everyone is your friend," says Godrey, which prompts the inmate to tighten his grip.

"OK, that's enough being friends," says the comedian.

"This commercial was perpetuating the kind of callousness that allows sexual abuse to continue in so many prisons virtually unchecked," says Stop Prison Rape Executive Director Lara Stemple. "We're very glad to hear that 7 Up has decided to stop sending out the message that it's OK to laugh about rape when it involves people in prison."

The prisoner rights group says that men in women in prison are routinely raped and sexually brutalized. That causes them "serious physical and psychological injury," says Stemple. "Unfortunately, jokes about rape in prison have become alarmingly common, but sexual violence is occurring in prison right now, to real people, causing real suffering."

Philippa Dworkin, a spokeswoman for Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, which is a unit of UK-based Cadbury Schweppes, says the ad tested well with audiences and has been running for about two months with no other complaints.

"We listened to what they had to say," she says. "They had some very valid points about the ad being able to be interpreted a different way from what we intended."