The beverage company Pepsi released an ad Tuesday, April 4, 2017, featuring supermodel Kendall Jenner. The ad was removed today due to serious backlash on social media. This ad borrowed imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, holding signs with nonspecific pleas like “Join the conversation.” The protesters are all smiling, laughing, clapping, hugging and high-fiving. In the ad’s climactic scene, a police officer accepts a can of Pepsi from Kendall Jenner, a white woman, setting off a piercing approval from the protesters and an appreciative grin from the officer.
Activists say that this ad was completely opposite of the actual experience when protesting police brutality. There was a huge backlash on Twitter where people spoke their mind about this controversial ad. Many felt that this Pepsi ad was disrespectful to the whole BlackLivesMatter movement. Social media commentators said that Pepsi was appropriating imagery from serious protests to sell its product while minimizing the danger protesters encounter and the frustration they feel.
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.” “No one is finding joy from Pepsi at a protest,” she said. “That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action.” In a statement on Tuesday, Pepsi at first said the ad, produced by an in-house studio, “captures the spirit and actions of those people that jump into every moment.”
Pepsi has removed the ad and also released a statement via twitter apologizing for this ad. Kendall Jenner has recently removed posts about the ad off of her social media accounts but she has yet to release a statement.
Here is the actual ad:
Please comment below your thoughts on this controversial ad and let me know if you think Pepsi and Kendall Jenner handled this correctly.