In case you have not seen any information about this all over social media and television news, Pepsi has got themselves in a bit of a media mess and is currently still dealing with the consequences. The soda brand is known for its celebrity guest advertisements, for how could we forget the iconic 2013 Beyoncé advert? Beyoncé was reunited with various old versions of herself after drinking Pepsi, and the ad gained global recognition and is a perfect example of when Pepsi got it right. The same cannot be said for their most recent advert.
In the 2 minute and 39-second advert, Kendall Jenner is in the middle of a photoshoot when she spots a protest happening. She makes eye contact with a man who beckons her to join and decides to throw off her wig to join the chanting but happy individuals. The Kardashian star then decides to bring everyone together by handing a law enforcement officer a can of Pepsi. After the advert was released to the public, it got 1.6 million views within 48 hours on YouTube and had twice as many dislikes than likes for the video. Twitter and Facebook users pointed out how the ad lacked sensitivity.
The backlash stemmed from the immoral, gauche, and insensitive nature of the ad, as Pepsi used visual resistance moments in order to sell a fizzy sugary drink. The image of Jenner approaching the law enforcement officer was found to mimic the iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, a black woman who stood in front of armed police during a Black Lives Matter protest, which was a reaction to the fatal 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling. Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr commented via Twitter, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” The comment got over 200,000 likes on Twitter.
Pepsi has now removed this advert and apologised to the public, saying, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.” They also expressed how they should not have put model Kendall Jenner in this position. That does bring into question how much responsibility should land on the model. When it comes to advertisements it is clear that most celebs are aware of what the ad contains before, during, and after filming. Whether this is something for Jenner to put down as bad judgment is down to the model.
Words: Seyi Adejori
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