Pepsi pulled their advertisement after criticized for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement. The company has accomplished their goal in uniting people by uniting the Internet to agree on how “tone deaf” the ad is.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement last Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
The ad aired on YouTube and featured young adults marching through he streets, holding signs to a song about unity and resistance. The ad also featured as the main characters of the ad: an unnamed Asian man, a woman in a hijab taking photos, and Kendall Jenner.
The realty star and model has not been engaged in protest movements like other celebrities. This ad features the model to not only entice a younger audience but also mimic Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi ad.
In the ad, Jenner is shown at a photo shoot in a glamorous tin foil dress and a blonde wig. Jenner watches the protestors walk by, rips off her blonde wig, and joins the march (because protestors cannot be blonde).
Later in the ad, the protestors are met by police officers in their way. Jenner walks up to one, hands them a Pepsi, and everyone cheers after he drinks it. And the Asian man smiles in the background and the woman with the hijab takes pictures.
In response to the unrealistic display of protestors in the Pepsi ad, ThirtyRev created their own version of the commercial. The production company tweeted at Pepsi saying “Hey Pepsi…don’t worry we fixed it for u.” The video featured actual protestors from Standing Rock to the same song from the commercial, “Lions” by Skip Marley.
Elle Hearns the executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and formerly an organizer for Black Lives Matter said, “No one is finding joy from Pepsi at a protest,” said Hearns “That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action.”
Hearns went on to compare Jenner bringing the police a Pepsi to Ieshia Evans, a black woman who offered her hands for arrest to riot police during a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge, La. “It has no relationship to the courage that that woman showed,” Hearns said. “That woman standing in the middle of the street was not trying to be a peacemaker with the police. She was being defiant. She was actually resisting.”
In reaction to the ad, Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King tweeted a picture of her father protesting and said, “If only Daddy would have known the power of Pepsi.”
Watch Full Ad Here