A new survey indicates that people actually liked that controversial Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad a lot more than you might think. According to this survey by research company Morning Consult, 44 percent of the 2,202 respondents said that the ad gave them a more favorable or somewhat more favorable impression of Pepsi as a company.
The original ad, which depicted Kendall Jenner leaving a photoshoot to join a protest and then resolving tensions by giving a police officer a Pepsi, aired on April 5 and was immediately criticized on social media as being tone deaf and offensive, as well as for appropriating imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement. The commercial was quickly pulled and Pepsi released a statement saying, “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."
According to BuzzFeed News, numerous advertising professionals agreed with the social media backlash, painting the ad as a PR disaster for Pepsi. JeWayne Thomas, a vice-president at Burrell Communications, told Buzzfeed that "the story just doesn’t resonate. There are some complex issues that we have to deal with as a country, race being one of them. And for sure Pepsi is not going to help solve issues." Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting, agreed, saying “They missed the mark on connecting to the hearts of people protesting and dramatically underestimated the sensitivity of the problem with protesters and BLM with soda pop. In a market where social media is looking, they got the attention they wanted for the wrong reasons.”
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
But the commercial may not have been as much of a misstep as Pepsi originally feared. In addition to the 44 percent overall who liked the ad, 75 percent of Hispanic respondents had a favorable view of the commercial, as did 51 percent of African-Americans. Men were slightly more inclined to feel more favorable or somewhat more favorable about Pepsi after watching, and Democrats were more likely to feel negatively about the ad when Kendall Jenner was shown, while Republicans were more likely to feel negatively about the ad when the hijabi woman was shown. Unfortunately for Kendall and Pepsi, however, most respondents said that their view of her was not improved after watching the ad. Whether Pepsi will attempt any other "socially conscious" ads after this, though, remains to be seen.