7UP Rape Jokes Protested

  • April 29, 2002

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.