Pepsi recently removed a controversial advertisement campaign featuring Kendall Jenner trying to make world peace with the use of Pepsi.
The advertisement depicts Kendall Jenner leaving a photo shoot and walking into a street filled with protestors and police officers. The protesters varied from African Americans to women fighting for women’s rights, to Muslims. There are officers standing directly across from the protesters in an organized line waiting to tame what could soon become a wild crowd. Jenner notices the tension and gives a can of Pepsi to a police officer as a peace offering.
What seemed to be an attempt to spread a message of love and unity actually became an example of poor marketing. Those who saw the ad accused Pepsi of capitalizing on sensitive topics such as the anti-Muslim sentiments and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Internet fought back against this ad calling it out for its exploitation of different American struggles. Some tweeted Pepsi photos of Iesha Evans, a young African American woman who brought flowers to Police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., tweeted sarcastically, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
Highlighting diversity and unity within advertisement campaigns is something that is becoming more common. Pepsi’s known rival, Coca Cola, has recently taken a successful approach in their commercials by including Latin-American, homosexual, and interracial families in their ads. Pepsi’s attempt to join the highlighting of diversity was a long shot by using very serious and sensitive topics for many Americans to promote its product.
The use of Kendall Jenner also made this even more problematic, since many people believe that Kendall and her family appropriate different cultures and do not speak up on behalf of social issues.
The ad has since been removed with an official apology stating, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize…We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”