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A dark, dreary cityscape, filled with riot police in armored cars–a world ruthlessly dominated by shadowy corporate superstructures.

This Orwellian dystopia isn’t the setting of a new novel or Hollywood blockbuster; it’s the theme of Mountain Dew’s new marketing campaign, an integrated media blitzkrieg featuring television commercials, online advertisements, and a computer game.

You’ve really got to see it for yourself, but the basic storyline is this: authoritarian “corporate barons rule the city with an iron fist,” stamping out creative expression and, apparently, forcing the oppressed population to drink the same old boring soda. Things look bleak, but fear not! There is hope. A ruggedly handsome young man with urban chic fasion sense can free the can overthrow the corporate lords, free the people, and “restore the sole of mankind” by designing a new flavor of soda pop called “the People’s dew.” After the game, “fantasy becomes reality” as Pepsi releases the new drink.

Pepsi was careful to avoid giving its customers any meaningful control, of course. Players don’t “design” the new soda. They exercise their creative freedom by choosing from a few preselected options (say, blue razberry or red cherry?). The released product won’t be the one selected by the players, it will be “recognizably similar.”

In other words, Pepsi has kindly invited you to feel like you have a choice in what sugary, artificially-colored, mediocre soda they put on the shelves so you’ll feel invested enough to actually buy it, even though any resemblance to your original selection will be purely coincidental.

So come on people! Let’s fight back against our corporate masters and design them a soda! That’ll teach ’em.

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