Description: Viral image
Circulating since: Dec. 2011
Status: Photo is authentic
As posted on Facebook, Dec. 17, 2011:
FB family I need your help, so today while in Iraq shutting down one of the bases there ironically enough I stumbled upon this can of diet pepsi. Take a close look at the picture and tell me the first thought that comes to your mind. Mine and many other of my brother in arms was not a pleasant one so I just want to make sure we re not bias. If you see the same thing I did, I will never ever buy another Pepsi product again, this is an insult. Thank you for your feedback and participation.
Analysis: This image began circulating online via Facebook and blog postings in late December 2011. It does, in fact, depict a can of Diet Pepsi made and sold in the Middle East.
Similar images of the product were posted in October 2011 by an American military blogger, John Hoff, who confirmed its place of origin: "The Diet Pepsi served in our chow hall is not from the United States. It is manufactured in Dubai by Pepsi Arabia and says so right on the can."
"I examined the can for several minutes while my food grew cold, wondering if my eyes were deceiving me," Hoff wrote. "But there was no getting around it. To either side of the Pepsi logo, there was an image of a jet airliner over tall buildings. Looking at the image, I couldn't help but think it alluded to 9/11."
Most Facebook commenters agreed.
However, while it's understandable that the illustration would spark associations with 9/11 in the minds of many Americans, in truth the stylized skyline more closely resembles that of modern Dubai than New York City circa 2001.
I requested a statement on this matter from PepsiCo and received the following via email:
We understand from some of our consumers that a Diet Pepsi can designed and sold in the Middle East portraying the growth of active regional cities has been misinterpreted. We are sorry that some people found this design insensitive, which was never our intention as the graphics on this can were inspired by the Dubai skyline. As soon as this matter was brought to our attention in October, we immediately stopped production of the can and took action to change the design. The new can, which features an abstract design, is already in the Middle East market. All old designs will be replaced over the next few weeks.
Update: As of the morning of Dec. 19, 2011, it appeared that the majority of member postings containing this image had been administratively deleted from Facebook.
Take a Close Look at This Diet Pepsi Can
Scallywag and Vagabond blog, 18 December 2011
New Pepsi Can Design Causes Internet Furor
KUSA-TV News, 18 December 2011
Pepsi to 'Change' Can Design Some Say Depicts 9/11
WTOP News, 19 December 2011
Last updated 12/20/11