In 1989, Madonna starred in a Pepsi commercial that never saw the light of day – until now. The star shared the ad on Instagram, saying that 34 years after it was canceled, Pepsi finally revealed the spot.
Madonna said that before the ad could premiere, her “Like a Prayer” music video came out — and proved controversial.
“The ad was immediately canceled when I refused to change any scenes in the video where I kissed a black saint or burned crosses,” she wrote on Instagram. “So began my illustrious career as an artist, refusing to compromise my artistic integrity.”
“Thank you [Pepsi] to finally realize the genius of our collaboration,” she wrote. “Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
“Like A Prayer” was Madonna’s fourth album, with hits such as “Express Yourself” and “Cherish”. The music video for the title single featured actor Leon Robinson, who is Black, playing a saint-like figure in a church.
In the video, Madonna witnesses a white woman being killed by white men, but the black man she is in a relationship with is arrested for the murder. Madonna hides in a church where she meets the saint and kisses him.
Many condemned the video, which also used several religious symbols, such as a crucifix.
The Vatican even called for a boycott of her tour. “I am aware that the Vatican and certain communities accuse my show of being sinful and blasphemous, that they are trying to prevent people from seeing it.” Madonna then said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I think I offend certain groups, but I think people who really understand what I do are not offended by it.”
Famously, Pepsi didn’t get its ad with the song until it premiered. “It may go down as one of the costliest advertising blunders of all time,” Entertainment Tonight host John Tesh reported at the time.
Despite the setback, Madonna continued to push the envelope. And Pepsi continued to feature stars in its ads. The brand, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary, has shared these star-studded ads on social media, including spots featuring Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Robert Palmer and Britney Spears. And of course Madonna.
The never-before-seen ad was also shared by Pepsi on Instagram. It shows Madonna singing “Like A Prayer” in front of a neon Pepsi sign and holding a can of soda.
Both Madonna’s and Pepsi’s sharing of the ad was praised and questioned by commentators. “AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!” Andy Cohen commented.
“This song changed my life,” Diplo wrote.
On Pepsi’s post, several commenters said the brand should apologize to the singer. “Alright, are they going to make up for the global boycott they had against her?” wrote a person. “Nearly 10 years of injustice in awards and advertising deals? What makes me feel safe is knowing that she has always been right and indeed ‘ahead of her time and a thousand years ahead of yours.’
“After so long??? Don’t you think you should apologize for the way you treated her?!?” someone else wrote.
“The Queen deserves this and an apology,” commented another.
CBS News has reached out to a representative for Pepsi and is awaiting a response.