Madonna Celebrates Release of Canceled Pepsi Commercial 34 Years After 'Like a Prayer' Controversy

Madonna is celebrating the release of her canceled Pepsi commercial — 34 years after it was banned.

Madonna Celebrates Release of Canceled Pepsi Commercial 34 Years After 'Like a Prayer' Controversy
Life Style

The singer, 65, worked with the soda maker on a 1989 video that featured her hit song “Like a Prayer” as part of a $5 million endorsement deal.

The day after the commercial aired, however, the full-length music video for the song also dropped on MTV and sparked a major stir among religious groups over its imagery of burning crosses and the seduction of a saint. At one point it was even condemned by the Vatican.

Despite the original two-minute commercial reaching an estimated 250 million viewers in over 40 countries, this ultimately prompted Pepsi to pull the commercial in April 1989 and cancel its sponsorship contract with Madonna.

On Tuesday the commercial returned, however, when it was aired at the 2023 MTV VMAs to commemorate Pepsi’s 125th anniversary.

Madonna was quick to share her thoughts on X (formerly known as Twitter) and thanked Pepsi for “finally realizing the genius of our collaboration.”

“34 years ago I made a commercial with Pepsi to celebrate the release of my song Like a Prayer,” she wrote alongside a clip of the ad, which first aired at the 31st Grammy Awards in February 1989. “The commercial was immediately canceled when I refused to change any scenes in the video where I was kissing a black saint or burning crosses.”

“So began my illustrious career as an artist refusing to compromise my artistic integrity. Thank you @pepsi for finally realizing the genius of our collaboration. ????Artists are here to disturb the peace,” she added.

The commercial begins with Madonna sitting in a chair and telling the camera, “Go ahead, make a wish.” The footage then switches to her singing and dancing in the street while singing “Like A Prayer,” before the camera switches back to Madonna in the chair watching herself perform on a projector screen with a can of Pepsi in her hand. 

The new version of the ad then ends with a graphic reading, "Celebrating 40 years of disrupting the status quo," referencing Madonna's four decades in the music industry.

Many of the singer’s celebrity fans shared their admiration for the star and the commercial’s re-airing on Instagram, with DJ Diplo writing, “This song changed my life.”

“TRAIL. BLAZER. PERIOD,” added Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Michelle Visage, while presenter Andy Cohen wrote, “AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!”

Madonna is currently gearing up for the launch of her Celebration Tour, which kicks off next month in London.

"She returned to rehearsals last Monday," the insider said, adding it's her "most ambitious tour ever." "She's so happy to be back onstage and is feeling strong. She's working closely with her longtime collaborators, Jamie King and Stuart Price, to put the final touches on the show."