Pepsi is taking a lot of heat for its latest commercial.
The ad features reality star and model Kendall Jenner. Pepsi’s intentions were to have people unite and “join the conversation”, which indeed was accomplished. The two- minute, 39-second short film definitely provoked conversation about Pepsi’s tone deafness and being “unwoke.”
In the ad, Jenner throws off her blond wig while leaving a photoshoot to join a protest. After sharing some nods and fist pumps with her fellow protestors, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star manages to bring everyone together by handing a cop a Pepsi. Social media warriors felt as though the message was clear.
All the Women’s Marches, Black Lives Matter protests and the many demonstrations outside Trump Tower would have been much more effective if someone had happened to have a soda on hand – specifically a Pepsi.
As suspected, the Internet went wild. Within approximately 48 hours, the video received more than one million views on YouTube and social media users voicing their distaste for the video. Many pointed out the idea of using protest imagery to spike soda sales was pretty tasteless in itself. This is rather noteworthy due to the fact that the Internet rarely agrees on anything.
For years, conversation online has brought out the best and worst in people. Or should I say it’s exposed who people really are and what they believe in? But this ad, with its effortlessly cool politically aware millennials in color- coordinated denim outfits, was the one thing everyone agreed to oppose.
A simple Twitter search for “Pepsi” shows that virtually no one is coming to the commercial’s defense. It is no surprise that the company opted to pull the ad only one day after being posted.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” Pepsi said in a statement in response to viewers and Kendall Jenner. “Clearly we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”
It’s hard to believe they weren’t “trying to make light of a serious issue” when a major issue that impacted the country was the storyline. But of course, an ice cold drink was there to save the day.
So, Pepsi, if you weren’t trying to make light of a serious issue, were you trying to make money off a serious issue and include Pepsi as a means of distraction? Then hopefully everyone would buy Pepsi and we would all sit together and sing “Kumbaya?” Just asking for a friend.
Pepsi is guilty of minimizing the danger protesters encounter and the frustration they feel. At first Pepsi said in a statement that the ad, which was produced by an in-house studio, “captures the spirit and actions of those people that jump in to every moment.” Many felt the ad only showed that they were tone-deaf.
Along with those who believed this was Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King.
“If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” @ BerniceKing tweeted under a black- and-white photo of her famous father being manhandled by police.
The image of Jenner approaching a line of police officers was compared to Reuters photojournalist Johnathan Bachman’s award-winning photo of Ieshia Evans, a black woman who stood firm while being charged by riot police during a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge, La., in July 2016.
Although Jenner has attempted to lay low in the wake of the controversy, a source told PEOPLE Magazine that the reality star is “very upset” and “feels terrible” about the backlash.
“To get a Pepsi gig was a big deal,” the insider said. “She was very excited. She never expected it to receive such backlash. She hopes people understand that she wasn’t involved in the creative process.”
Although Jenner claimed to not be part of the creative process, she did know what she was doing. This is very comparable to doing various photoshoots she’s accustomed to. You know what you’re going to wear, where you’d be shooting and the designers’ vision.
So in this case, Jenner knew what she was walking into; therefore, she must’ve not seen anything wrong with the short film.
In the end, how old do you have to be to take responsibility for your actions?
Well, hey, on the bright side, at such a stressful and divided time in the country, for a two-day span, Pepsi did manage to bring us together – black, white, old, young – in a united from over the amazing awfulness of one commercial.