“Bawal lang kung mahuli.” (In English, “It’s only wrong if you’re caught.”)
Yes, that’s what we read in Pepsi billboards nowadays. Another one goes like this, “Better sorry than safe.” (Thanks to Bro. Danny Ching for pointing this out in his blog, “Danny’s Little Corner,” at http://dlccorps.multiply.com/journal.) These ads are specifically targeting our youth. Parents, that’s my kids and your kids. Of course, the people behind these ads can always claim it depends on one’s interpretations. That the only message they are trying to convey is that we are to live to the fullest.
Therein lies the problem. The ads are prone to misinterpretation. I challenge the copywriter to take those ads and conduct an objective survey. Let’s see if those reading it would say they understood it to mean, “Live life to the fullest.” Keep in mind a communication rule: “Don’t just aim to be understood. Seek not to be misunderstood.” I know that the reason why the company came up with radical ads is to seize our attention. In fact, the more controversial, the better. Negative publicity is, after all, still publicity.
So, I would not cry out for a boycott for now. Instead, I would first appeal to Pepsi executives’ sense of responsibility. Let us imagine that their son got caught cheating in school. Would he be off the hook if he claims that cheating wasn’t really wrong and it only became wrong because he got caught? Or, let us say their teenage daughter not only got pregnant but also infected with HIV-AIDS. Would they accept it if she said, “Better sorry than safe”? (Of course, I still go for waiting until marriage. It’s just an argument.) But, hopefully, pointing out the logical end of these illogical ads would knock some sense in their heads.
More importantly, this underscores the need for us parents to help our children filter the messages that are bombarding them through TV, radio and print. Let us teach them not only what to think but how to think through these messages. The best way to do that is to teach them the Word of God through our words and works (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
Brethren, let us equip our children to be discerning.