A firestorm has erupted in Lebanon over Pepsi’s new global rebranding with a redesign that extremists claim resembles Israel’s flag.

According to Israel Hayom, the “controversy” surrounds S.M.L.C., a company that bottles Pepsi products in Lebanon. They recently unveiled caps for its bottles featuring a blue and white design that irate consumers claim looks far too similar to the Israeli flag’s color scheme and Star of David emblem.

Lebanese Attorney Mohammed Ziad Jaafil filed a formal complaint with the Public Prosecution Office in Beirut on Friday demanding an immediate halt to distributions. He accused the Lebanese bottler of “inciting strife, attempts at normalization, and violations of the boycott laws against the Israeli enemy.”

While PepsiCo has made no official announcement about changing its iconic red, white and blue brand logo, it did recently launch a global rebranding campaign in March introducing an updated primary icon claiming to reflect a modern vibrancy.

Few consumer brands enjoy the worldwide reach and commercial power of PepsiCo. The food and beverage titan’s portfolio reads like a who’s who of internationally beloved products like Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana, and Quaker.

PepsiCo’s ubiquitous offerings are a daily indulgence for consumers adding up to over $86 billion in net revenue for 2023 alone. With a presence in over 200 countries and distribution networks conquering supermarket aisles from Baton Rouge to Bangkok, few corporations can match their ability to seamlessly embed its products into the daily lives of billions.

However, it seems that in Lebanon, any packaging updates suggesting even the faintest whiff of Israeli symbolism risks igniting a boycott. No matter how unintended, the “threat” remains too much for an Arab country being held under Hezbollah’s boot.

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