Did PepsiCo Give U.S.The Middle Finger?
Ms. Nooyi began to compare the world and its five major continents (excl. Antarctica and Australia) to the human hand.Nooyi’s speech, apparently a take-off on "This Little Piggy", is a ridiculous analogy and interpretation of history and current world affairs. Isn’t Ms. Nooyi clever and insightful? We’ll see.
First was Africa - the pinky finger - small and somewhat insignificant but when hurt, the entire hand hurt with it.
Next was Asia - the thumb - strong and powerful, yearning to become a bigger player on the world stage.
Third was Europe - the index finger - pointing the way.
Fourth was South America - the ring finger - the finger which symbolizes love and sensualness.
Finally, the US (not Canada mind you) - yes, you guessed it - the middle finger. She then launched into a diatribe about how the US is seen as the middle finger to the rest of the world. The rest of the world sees us as an overbearing, insensitive and disrespectful nation that gives the middle finger to the rest of the world.
According to Ms. Nooyi, we cause the other finger nations to cower under our presence. But it is our responsibility, she continues, to change the current state of world opinion of the US. It is our responsibility to make the other fingers rise in unison with us as we move forward.
Our fingers will be dialing Pepsi to verify the contents of Ms Nooyi’s speech. If we have an accurate account of her speech, we’ll be giving Pepsi the middle finger and purchasing alternatives to Pepsi, Frito Lay, Tropicana, Quaker Oats, Gatorade and their other products.
We called PepsiCo and were referred to the public relations department. The person we spoke with was not familiar with the contents of Nooyi’s speech, but promised to call us back with the facts.
Update: We just received a call from Elaine Palmer from PepsiCo. She said PepsiCo will be releasing a statement to clarify Nooyi’s speech delivered at Columbia Business School. Palmer said Nooyi’s comments were taken out of context, but yes, she did refer to the United States as the middle finger. She conceded that in hindsight the five finger analogy was childish, but was meant as a metaphor for the importance of the world working together for the betterment of all.
Palmer characterized the Nooyi speech as actually pro-American and read a portion of it that noted the middle finger as the longest and strongest of the fingers. She indicated some people misinterpreted Nooyi’s remarks and the significance of her relegating the United States to the middle digit. No disrespect was intended. We pointed out that if the finger analogy had to be used, surely the U.S. could have been the index finger, pointing the way to democracy.
Palmer tried to down play information one reads on blogs as “bubbling up from nowhere” and said she had never heard of Powerline until today. She has heard of them big time now. We told Palmer, Powerline didn’t just make up the speech or the student’s interpretation and that we looked forward to PepsiCo’s statement and release of the Nooyi speech. Releasing the actual speech and not snippets is the best way to clear up the matter.
Palmer has been placed in a tough spot, unless of course she vetted the speech, then she’s on the hot seat where she belongs. We're sure we will be reading more on this story, especially after PepsiCo releases the complete speech. Don’t hold your breath on the latter.
Executive Offices PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Update 2: Readers have provided this email address for PepsiCo's Board of Directors:
And Powerline has updates in their post The Strawberry Statement and Play the hand. Powerline linked to Enlighten-NewJersey and we greatly appreciate the nod. Now, if we could get people to pay a bit more attention to New Jersey's race for Governor this year, we'd be ever so grateful.
Update 3: PepsiCo has posted a message from Indra Nooyi here and the text of her speech at Columbia Business School may be read here (in PDF).
Update 4: We've posted the complete speech in html here