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People Are Fired Up About Kendall Jenner's New Pepsi Ad


Kendall Jenner is receiving serious backlash for her role in a global Pepsi commercial, "Live For Now Moments Anthem," released on Tuesday. Jenner is the face of the brand's most recent campaign, which people are not happy with.

The ad opens with Skip Marley's "Lions" playing in the background. The story focuses on an Asian cello player, a Muslim photographer dressed in a traditional hijab and finally a glammed-up Jenner in the middle of a photo shoot. The three artists are distracted by a crowd of seemingly happy protestors, holding generic posters while smiling through their march. Jenner makes eye contact with the muscian, who nods at her to join the crowd. She strips off a silky blonde wig and wipes her dark purple lipstick on the back of her hand before grabbing a Pepsi for the walk. The demonstration is apparently inclusive, as young people of all skin colors, ethnicities and sexualities are shown smiling, dancing and cheering in the streets.

In what is the most controversial scene of the ad, Jenner approaches a line of police officers standing before the protesters. She hands one of the cops a Pepsi as the Muslim photographer snaps a photo, and the crowd erupts into cheers and fist bumps while the police officer takes a sip. 

In what they probably thought was an effort to unite the nation and promote social peace, Pepsi has seriously missed the mark. The commercial has been criticized for mirroring the Black Lives Matter movement, as viewers have noticed that the climax scene is shockingly similar to an image of 28-year-old Ieshia Evans, who was detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last summer.

The video makes light of protests, portraying the scene as more of a party than a serious social demonstration. The overpoweringly positive vibe is a bit of a stretch because we're going to need a lot more than soda to unite our divided nation. 

This isn't the first time brands have addressed cultural issues in their advertising: Coca-Cola released "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" in opposition of the Vietnam War in 1971, and many of this year's Super Bowl commercials were politically charged. However, whatever Pepsi's underlying message is doesn't seem to be getting through to audiences.

Twitter users have been relentless, posting satirical comments and turning Jenner's campaign into an internet joke.

Pepsi initially released a statement defending Jenner and the campaign. It reads, “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." 

In an earlier statement to Teen Vogue, a spokesperson explained, "The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to 'Live For Now,' in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited." 

Due to the immense criticism, Pepsi has since issued a public apology and pulled the commercial just a day after its release. Their Wednesday statement says, "Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."

Jenner has yet to comment on the backlash or the retraction. 

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