PRESS RELEASES - 2002

7UP To Pull TV Ad Under Pressure from Human Rights Groups

May 24, 2002

Los Angeles - Under pressure from Stop Prisoner Rape, a nonprofit human rights organization, and nearly 100 other human rights, HIV/AIDS, prison rights, and sexual violence organizations, Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. has decided to stop airing a national television commercial that makes light of rape in prison.

The commercial, created by Young & Rubicam and called Captive Audience, aired during youth-oriented programming on MTV, UPN, FOX, and the WB. In the ad, a 7UP spokesperson hands 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. Later in the ad, a cell door slams, trapping the spokesperson on a bed with another man who refuses to take his arm from around him.

Philippa Dworkin, vice president of corporate communications for Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., told Lara Stemple, executive director of SPR, that the ad would be taken off the air in response to the protest.

“This commercial was perpetuating the kind of callousness that allows sexual abuse to continue in so many prisons virtually unchecked,” said Stemple. “We’re very glad to hear that 7UP has decided to stop sending out the message that it’s okay to laugh about rape when it involves people in prison. No corporation would make jokes about rape outside of the prison context.”

“We really have listened to them. Their points are very valid and we are with them on human rights,” Dworkin told a CNSNEWS.com reporter this week, before the company made the final decision to stop airing the commercial.

“Nearly 100 organizations spoke out to say that prisoner rape is a horrific human rights abuse that must be taken seriously,” said Stemple, “and we’re happy 7UP has listened.”

Men and women in prison are routinely raped and sexually brutalized in prisons throughout the country, causing serious physical and psychological injury. Gang rapes can be particularly brutal, leaving victims viciously beaten, and in rare cases, dead. Long term consequences for survivors of prisoner rape may include post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and suicide.

“Unfortunately, jokes about rape in prison have become alarmingly common,” said Stemple, “But sexual violence is occurring in prison right now, to real people, causing real suffering. Simply put, prisoner rape isn’t funny.”