Madonna has thanked Pepsi for “finally” airing the banned advert she starred in over three decades ago.
The pop icon teamed up with the soft drink company for the commercial back in 1989. However, the campaign was axed due to the controversy surrounding the video for Madge’s then-new single, ‘Like A Prayer’.
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In keeping with the religious connotations of the song, its music video includes a scene featuring burning crosses, and sees Madonna kissing a Black saint. Pepsi eventually bowed to pressure from religious groups – including the Vatican – by pulling the ad and cutting ties with the singer.
On Tuesday night (September 12), however, Pepsi aired the advert in full during the 2023 MTV VMAs to mark the manufacturer’s 125th anniversary.
Taking to Instagram afterwards, Madonna shared the 30-second promo along with a message of thanks. “34 years ago I made a commercial with Pepsi to celebrate the release of my song Like a Prayer,” it began.
“The commercial was immediately cancelled when I refused to change any scenes in the video where I was kissing a black saint or burning crosses. So began my illustrious career as an artist refusing to compromise my artistic integrity.”
34 years ago I made a commercial with Pepsi to celebrate the release of my song Like a Prayer.
The commercial was immediately canceled when I refused to change any scenes in the video where I was kissing a black saint or burning crosses.
So began my illustrious career as an… pic.twitter.com/zHBaBtGP9v
— Madonna (@Madonna) September 13, 2023
She added: “Thank you @pepsi for finally realising the genius of our collaboration. 😄 Artists are here to disturb the peace.” Check out the post above.
Madonna reportedly signed a $5million (£4m) deal with Pepsi to star in the advert, which was soundtracked by ‘Like A Prayer’. The commercial was much more family-friendly than the aforementioned music video, showing Madge singing and dancing in the street.
Pope John Paul II had condemned Madonna for pairing religious imagery with sexual visuals in the Mary Lambert-directed video for ‘Like A Prayer’.
Back in 2021, Lambert told The Hollywood Reporter that the Black saint character “came from Madonna telling me she wanted to ‘fuck a Black guy on the altar’.” She added: “I said, ‘Well, why not have it be a Black Jesus? Let’s just go all the way’. She liked that.”
As for 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 holy symbol to a lot of people, and appropriate it in a way to instil fear and horror and promote race hatred,” she explained. “I wanted to turn that on its head.”
Meanwhile, Madonna is set to embark on the UK and European leg of her ‘Celebration Tour’ next month. She’ll then begin her rescheduled North American dates in December. Find any remaining tickets here (UK) and here (North America).