Madonna has “finally” thanked Pepsi for airing the ban ad she starred in more than three decades ago.
The pop icon partnered with the soft drinks company for the ad in 1989. However, the campaign was canceled due to controversy sparked by the video for Madge’s then-new single, “Like A Prayer.”
In keeping with the religious connotations of the song, its video includes a scene where crosses are burned and Madonna is seen kissing a black saint. Pepsi ended up bowing to pressure from religious groups – including the Vatican -, withdrawing the ad and cutting ties with the singer.
However, on Tuesday night (September 12), Pepsi aired the full ad during the 2023 MTV VMAs to mark the manufacturer’s 125th anniversary.
Later, Madonna shared the 30-second promo on Instagram along with a message of thanks: “34 years ago I did a commercial with Pepsi to celebrate the release of my song Like a Prayer,” it began.
“The ad was canceled immediately when I refused to change the scenes in the video where I kissed a black saint or burned crosses. So I started my famous career as an artist by refusing to risk my artistic integrity.”
He added: “Thank you @pepsi for finally realizing the spirit of our collaborators. Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
Madonna reportedly signed a $5 million (£4 million) deal with Pepsi to star in the ad, which featured “Like A Prayer” as its soundtrack. The ad was much more family-friendly than the aforementioned music video, and featured Madge singing and dancing in the street.
Pope John Paul II criticized Madonna for combining religious imagery with sexual imagery in the video for “Like A Prayer,” directed by Mary Lambert.
In 2021, Lambert told The Hollywood Reporter that the black saint character “came about when Madonna told me she wanted to ‘beat black on the altar,'” adding: “I said, ‘Well, why not Jesus?’ it’s black.” ‘We’ll go to the end.’ He liked that.”
Regarding the burning crosses, Lambert told the outlet that this imagery played with “the idea of appropriation.”
“…The Ku Klux Klan could take a cross, which is a sacred symbol for many people, and adapt it in a way that instilled fear and terror and fostered racial hatred,” he explained. “I wanted to turn that around.”
Meanwhile, Madonna will kick off the British and European leg of her “Celebration Tour” next month. In December it will begin with the dates scheduled for North America. Find the remaining entries here (UK) and here (North America).