In a year that has seen dual pandemics of coronavirus and racial injustice, which have both disproportionately affected Black Americans, several major brands made commitments to support Black art.
Pepsi came to Detroit to keep their commitment.
The 127-year-old company has more than 80 years of brand history in the Detroit area. The city is home to a warehouse and bottler right near Eastern Market.
Perhaps it was the proximity to the Market that inspired Pepsi to partner with Detroit artists on a splendid new mural project.
“Detroit is a city with an incredible breadth of artistry and talent,” said Kathy Kennedy, Sr. Director of Marketing, North Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “When imagining the Full of Detroit Soul initiative, we wanted to depict the heart and culture of the community by partnering with artists that are very active locally and who highlight the city's positive attributes in their art.”
Sydney G. James, Ndubisi Okoye, and Désirée Kelly are the featured visual artists who have each crafted unique murals that showcase their ties to Detroit — and that will canvas the city through billboards and wallscapes.
Kelly was “humbled to be commissioned by Pepsi to artistically document what Full of Detroit Soul means. My goal as an artist is to create portraits but also to tell narratives. This project was important to me because of my connection to the city. I normally depict public, iconic or historical figures in my portraits. I decided to use myself because I was born and raised in Detroit and in this project I'm a representative of my community.”
In her self-portrait piece, Kelly also made sure to include the “soul” of the city by adding the names of neighborhoods, highlighting car culture, and even skate culture.
Grammy-nominated singer Kem was tapped for support with music.
For James, the idea of being on a major platform from Pepsi where she could showcase her muse, Black women, was irresistible.
“Black women born and bred in Detroit is what motivated the design of my piece,” she said. “When I think of Detroit, I think of strength, creativity, ingenuity, resilience, art — the makeup of the Black woman. The subject, Jonni Paige, is a muse I have painted in public and private spaces all over the globe. It was the perfect time to present her face again back here at home.”
The Full of Detroit Soul mural series will also be featured on limited-edition packaging on 24-packs, 2-liter, and 20-oz. bottles of Pepsi at local retailers in 2021.
Detroit Full of Soul will become a multi-year community platform and creative campaign, and an outlet for Detroit community support for the city.
“We looked for talent that were not only Detroit locals,” Kennedy said, “but who use the city and community as a constant source of inspiration and who embrace and celebrate everything Detroit stands for.”
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