7UP Rape Jokes Protested
April 29, 2002
Los Angeles - In response to 7UP's use of jokes about prisoner rape in
their Captive Audience commercial, Stop Prisoner Rape and 94
organizations from across the nation have joined together in protest.
Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a nonprofit human rights organization dedicated to
ending sexual violence against men, women, and youth in all forms of detention,
is leading the campaign against 7UP. The appeal to 7UP is endorsed by groups
such as Human Rights Watch, the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, and other
organizations working on sexual violence issues, HIV/AIDS, and civil rights.
7UP refused to pull the ad when initially approached by SPR. Now joined by 94
co-signing organizations, SPR is making the request public and appealing to
senior-level 7UP management, the Board of Directors of Cadbury-Schweppes, Dr.
Pepper/Seven UP Inc.'s parent company, and Young & Rubicam Advertising, the
creators of the ad.
Previously broadcast on cable, the Captive Audience commercial, will launch this
week on network television. The commercial portrays a 7UP spokesperson handing
out cans of 7UP to prisoners. When he accidentally drops a can, he quips that he
won't pick it up, implying that he would risk being raped if he were to bend
down. Similar humor is attempted later when the spokesperson is sitting on a bed
in a cell with another man who refuses to take his arm from around him.
The ad is running on youth-oriented programming, including during animated shows
and on MTV. "Jokes about prisoner rape are part of why this abuse has been
tolerated for so long. 7UP should not be teaching our young people that rape is
funny," said Lara Stemple, Executive Director of SPR.
"Men and women are routinely raped and sexually brutalized in prisons throughout
the country. Unfortunately, we all 'get it' when the spokesperson won't bend
over," said Stemple. "But prisoner rape is a serious human rights abuse that is
dehumanizing and sometimes deadly. Victims have been left beaten and bloodied,
they have suffered long-term psychological harm, and they have contracted HIV."
SPR, along with the other organizations, find 7UP's use of jokes about
prisoner rape to sell soft drinks alarming, yet unfortunately, all too
common. "No company would make jokes about rape outside of the prison
context. It's time to stop the joking and start taking sexual violence
against men and women behind bars seriously," Stemple asserted.