Today in Madonna History: April 4, 1989

On April 4 1989, Pepsi-Cola announced it had banned all future broadcasts of the Madonna/Pepsi-Cola commercial, cancelled her 1-year contract and the sponsorship of what would have been the Like A Prayer World Tour, due to the boycott threats from religious groups against her own Like A Prayer music video.

Here’s a snippet of an article from the New York Times (printed April 5, 1989):

”When you’ve got an ad that confuses people or concerns people, it just makes sense that that ad goes away,” said Tod MacKenzie, a spokesman for Pepsico Inc. He would not say whether Pepsico had canceled its sponsorship of Madonna’s tour.

Pepsico paid Madonna more than $5 million to appear in a two-minute commercial that first appeared on March 2. In it, Madonna traveled back to her 8th birthday.

Jay’s Thought: Had the Like A Prayer World Tour gone forward as planned, Madonna might not have participated in Dick Tracy or released I’m Breathless or Vogue for that matter. How different would the Like A Prayer World Tour set-list have been from Blond Ambition?

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 1989

On March 3 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer single and music video were released.

Happy 30th anniversary to one of Madonna’s most enduring and beloved songs. It still takes us there!

Today in Madonna History: January 25, 1989

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On January 25, 1989, following eight months of negotiations, Pepsi announced that they had signed Madonna to a year-long endorsement contract, for which they would pay her $5 million. In return, Madonna would appear in a series of television commercials and Pepsi would sponsor the Like A Prayer World Tour, tentatively slated for later that year.

Pepsi was undaunted by Madonna’s image in the tabloids. “Her appeal is in her music and her acting. That’s where people’s interests are,” announced Pepsi spokesman Tod MacKenzie.

If the Like A Prayer World Tour had gone ahead as planned, do you think it would have been drastically different from Blond Ambition? What would have changed? Vogue and all the songs from Dick Tracy (or I’m Breathless) would have been omitted. What else? 

Today in Madonna History: April 6, 2017

On April 6 2017, CNN published an article explaining why Madonna understands a little something about pulled Pepsi commercials:

In 1989, she starred in a Pepsi commercial that was pulled because of controversy over the music video for Like A Prayer, which featured burning crosses and showed Madonna kissing a black actor portraying a saint.

She reminded the world of this bit of pop culture history Wednesday when she posted on Instagram about the disastrous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner.

 “When you wake up and realize that SHIT just really doesn’t make sense. Side Note: My Pepsi commercial was pulled 30 years ago because I was kissing a black saint! #ironic.”

 

Today in Madonna History: March 2, 1989

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On March 2 1989, Madonna’s “Make A Wish” commercial for Pepsi premiered during an episode NBC-TV’s The Cosby Show.

A teaser ad had begun airing in the week leading up to the prime-time reveal of the full two-minute spot, which promised viewers the first opportunity to hear Madonna’s new single, Like A Prayer. Unbeknownst to fans at the time, the teaser featured a brief preview of the 12″ Club Version of the song (excluding any Madonna vocals).

An estimated 250 million viewers in over 40 countries tuned in to watch the only airing of “Make A Wish” – which marked the first time that a mainstream artist had launched a lead single in a promotional campaign before its official release to radio or MTV.

A brief but foretelling comment made by Madonna prior to the airing of the commercial was published in Rolling Stone magazine:

“I like the challenge of merging art and commerce. As far as I’m concerned, making a video is also a commercial. But the treatment for the video is a lot more controversial. It’s probably going to touch a lot of nerves in a lot of people. And the treatment for the commercial is…I mean, it’s a commercial. It’s very, very sweet. It’s very sentimental. The Pepsi spot is a great and different way to expose the record. Record companies just don’t have the money to finance that kind of publicity.”

The remark appeared to go conveniently unnoticed by the executives at Pepsi, who later claimed to have had no previous knowledge about the content of the Like A Prayer music video, despite the fact that it was already completed when the commercial was shot.

Banking on the buzz generated by the “Make A Wish” commercial, Sire Records issued the Like A Prayer single and its accompanying music video to radio and MTV the day after the commercial aired.

As for the ensuing controversy–that’s just another day in Madonna history.

Today in Madonna History: January 25, 1989

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On January 25, 1989, following eight months of negotiations, Pepsi announced that they had signed Madonna to a year-long endorsement contract, for which they would pay her $5 million. In return, Madonna would appear in a series of television commercials and Pepsi would sponsor the Like A Prayer World Tour, tentatively slated for later that year.

Pepsi was undaunted by Madonna’s image in the tabloids. “Her appeal is in her music and her acting. That’s where people’s interests are,” announced Pepsi spokesman Tod MacKenzie.

If the Like A Prayer World Tour had gone ahead as planned, do you think it would have been drastically different from Blond Ambition? What would have changed? Vogue and all the songs from Dick Tracy (or I’m Breathless) would have been omitted. What else? 

Today In Madonna History: March 3, 1989

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On March 3 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer video premiered on MTV.

The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrayed Madonna as a witness to a murder of a white girl by white supremacists. While a black man is arrested for the murder, Madonna hides in a church for safety seeking strength to go forth as a witness.

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