Culture > Pepsi removes new Kendall Jenner ad after intense criticism

Posted on April 6, 2017

Image by Steven Depolo via flickr

Daria Belau discusses how controversial media can spark outrage in society
After a day of intense online criticism, Pepsi pulls its new commercial because of the backlash it received.

On Tuesday Pepsi published the two and a half minute ad that shows model Kendall Jenner in the middle of a peaceful protest. They stated, “Pepsi was trying to project a message of unity, peace and understanding.”

The ad instantly went viral. It was followed by serious accusations as people felt Pepsi’s ad was mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and other protests, thus belittling and glamourising them.

At the end of the ad, Jenner takes a can of Pepsi and hands it to one of the police officers, at the police barrier. He calmly takes it and Jenner returns to the suddenly cheering crowd. It all ends with the slogan ‘live bolder, live louder, live for now’.

“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.” – Pepsi

“No one is finding joy from Pepsi at a protest,” said Elle Hearns, an organiser for Black Lives Matter. “That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action.”

Martin Luther King’s daughter, Bernice King tweeted, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The brand used scenarios, which allegedly appear to be very similar to pictures taken of the protestor Ieshia Evans, who was arrested after confronting a police barrier, in 2016.

Pepsi apologised one day after the release and deleted the advert from its official Twitter and Facebook sites.

Kendall Jenner has not commented on the issue yet.

“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.” – Pepsi

What I think
To my mind, Pepsi did miss the mark and represented the fight for human rights as a simple social trend. It really is a ‘tone-deaf’ advertisement, as it is often described on Twitter, yet some of the critics seem to be quite over the top. According to some, Pepsi choosing a black female to be Kendall Jenner’s stylist, for instance, depicts white privilege. And this is only one of many similar comments made.

Statements like this make the issue appear more problematic than it actually is. I do agree that the material chosen is not appropriate for commercials, but that is the only problem I see in the matter. This is especially because Pepsi’s intentions were clear from the beginning, ie. to present peaceful affirmation for each other and create an idealistic event.

It was not meant to show real imagery of what a protest looks like. It was meant to promote a drink.

But all in all, I believe it was definitely the right decision to take the advert down, and to apologise to all who might have been offended by its content. After all, protests for human rights are an important issue, and should be taken seriously.

What is your opinion on Pepsi’s advert? Let me know what you think about it.

Daria Belau
Daria is into photography, loves travelling and is passionate about music. After she finishes school, she would love to study psychology.



3 Responses to Pepsi removes new Kendall Jenner ad after intense criticism

  1. Michael Gelman April 8, 2017 at 11:19 am #

    In my opinion, Pepsi released a very tacky ad which tries to show how great their product is in a very unlucky manner. Nevertheless it is not the commercial that shocks me but rather the reaction of our society we live in. People see what they want to see. They view this commercial as a rasist video clip making fun of their history. Really? Those people should stop exaggerating some harmless commercials or comments and rather focus on real problems. Nothing about this ad is racist. Therefore I liked the comment of Bernice King because she points out that the ad is scabrous but she does not overreact unlike other people.
    So, was the commercial a good idea? No.
    Was it right to take it down? Yes.
    But people should stop regarding themselves as victims of everything. I’m sure B.K. could do just that. Yet she didn’t choose the easy way.

    PS: Liked your article.

  2. Maks April 26, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    I think you’ve done a great job with your article. I do agree with Michael with him saying it’s a bad advert and not very well thought through. I also agree with him when he said that people are overreacting, I think they just want something to be offended by and even if its as ridiculous as being offended by an advert for a drink. Nothing stands out in the advert as racist just plain dumb and egotistical.

  3. abel h. April 26, 2017 at 10:29 am #

    This article was good. I agree with you on the fact that many people are just overreacting I don’t see anything racist about the advert. I also believe a lot of people are take it far too seriously saying it’s mocking the BLM protest instead of taking for what it is a advert to sell pepsi. But I do believe the advert was “tone deaf” and pepsi should have expected a reaction similar to this.


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