The Kardashian’s aren’t typically known for being sensitive to the issues of social justice but this time, Kendall Jenner and Pepsi have really hit the nail on the head for the most tone-deaf, insensitive ad on the market. Kendall has been touting her latest gig as their new spokesperson. She has been posting about it all over her social media and when her ad finally dropped on Tuesday and it was a huge, terrible bomb. And the internet is having none of it. In fact, people were so quick to jump all over Pepsi for the lack of insight, that the backlash has now reached a fever pitch.
The ad opens with Kendall at a photo shoot wearing a blond wig. She gets distracted from the shoot as a group of protesters marches by holding signs that say trite sayings like “join the conversation” and “peace” on them. She removes her wig and wipes her berry-colored lipstick and walks out into the crowd of protestors. The attractive protestors are clapping and laughing. The protest seems to be more like a party than a protest. She then walks up to a stone-faced police man who is standing in a line with other policemen. She hands him a Pepsi and the crowd goes wild when he cracks it open and takes a sip. It is almost unbearable to watch. The imagery of the ad is reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter movement but without the actual frustration or pain that the real protestors actually feel.
Social media was aflame with anger and frustration. A majority of people vented their anger about the obvious appropriation of a very serious issue. Pepsi was accused of trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement with the recent ad. Current activists say that the ad is the exact opposite of what actually happens during a protest. Elle Hearns, the executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and formerly an organizer for Black Lives Matter, said the ad “plays down the sacrifices people have historically taken in utilizing protests.”
Pepsi immediately released a statement defending the ad saying that it was meant to bring people together. They wanted to inspire an open conversation about everything our country has been facing these last few years. The said the ad was meant to show “various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment … to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.” They made a statement to Adweek that stated, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
Well Pepsi has since changed their tune regarding the ad within a day.They retracted the ad and issued an apology. But even their apology fell flat. The company said in a statement. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
Kendall Jenner is an adult who was not forced into the ad campaign and she should also be held accountable for this travesty. The Kardashian’s are a marketing machine and they have all made a living on controversy and appropriation. Don’t believe for one second that Kendall was “unaware” of the implications of the ad. She had this to say about the ad, “To me, Pepsi is more than just a beverage. It registers as a pop culture icon and a lifestyle that shares a voice with the generation of today. The spirit of Pepsi — living in the ‘now’ moment — is one that I believe in. I make a conscious effort in my everyday life and travels to enjoy every experience of today.”
Yeah, we aren’t even sure what that means. Pepsi is a soft drink company not a lifestyle. The whole venture has really hurt Pepsi’s image. Twitter is still reeling from the ad and we think that this will eventually have a negative effect on Pepsi’s profits.