In case you haven’t heard, Pepsi released a new commercial featuring Kendall Jenner; sounds innocent enough right? WRONG. From start to finish, which is about two and a half minutes, the ad is so tone deaf to the reality that it might as well be Mariah Carey on NYE. Honestly, though, this train wreck may have been worse. Here are five ways Pepsi’s ad all but confirms just how out of touch corporate America is with us.
1. They released the “civil rights” themed ad with a nonperson of color portraying the protagonist
Admittedly, when the ad started it had the potential to be something positive…like maybe for five seconds. From there it starts going in this weird direction and depicts Kendall Jenner as a model doing a shoot by the street as a protest is occurring. Kendall at first is unaware of the literally massive movement of people, but as the shoot goes on she is increasingly more and more distracted by the crowd. If I didn’t know any better I’d infer that she doesn’t actually know what the protest is about, because for real though who becomes social conscious in like 2 minutes? She’s actually shown leaving the photo shoot for the “protest” only after a guy looks at her with that classic cheesy ass “come with me” face. Ultimately Kendall saves the day by leading the protest to the cops and handing one of them a Pepsi. There’s a lot wrong with this picture but my biggest question is why oh why would they choose Kendall Jenner??? Pepsi could have found any person of color, and social leader, maybe even a politician, man go find Obama, ANYONE other than Kendall Jenner. L.
2. They released the ad on the 49th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination
Now I don’t know if this was a coincidence or if it was a marketing strategy, but the ad debuted on the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. Like many black leaders and activists during his time, Dr. King was harassed, terrorized and ultimately killed simply because he believed in fairness and equality. At the time of Dr. King’s assassination, he was considered to be enemy #1 by the FBI; yep, a pastor protesting and leading people in peace were once considered the most dangerous man in the world. Why bring this up? Because you won’t find any mention of that, true activism, or quite an honesty much factual truth in Pepsi’s ad. Of all the times to drop a commercial capitalizing off of the various social movements happening around the country/world, Y’all couldn’t have picked any other day? L.
3. The backlash from Twitter that they clearly were not expecting.
The backlash from Twitter was swift, unforgiving, and at times pretty hilarious, which gave some levity to the situation.
"Kendall please! Give him a Pepsi!" pic.twitter.com/IntFNmCpTr
— Zito (@_Zeets) April 4, 2017
If Kendall solved a huge social issue handing the cop a pepsi imagine what we could achieve if it were a COKE!
— Summers (@EMESummers) April 5, 2017
The Pepsi president of marketing in tomorrow morning's meeting: pic.twitter.com/ULhHiVuO9n
— Brett (@IdealGasLaw) April 5, 2017
But, of course not everyone understood the outrage over the ad.
We have the Syrian regime gassing it's own citizens and we have N. Korea getting bolder and people are more upset over a can of Pepsi.
— Derek Norton (@OrangeDevilDog) April 5, 2017
Y'all mad at Dave Chappelle for being offensive, y'all mad at Pepsi for pretending to care.. When y'all gon run out of mad?
— +ʋɐəS (@SeanTheTerrible) April 5, 2017
The Pepsi advert the world is mad about not the Syria chemical attack. pic.twitter.com/o04AHDt5Yt
— Mazi Ibe (@MaziIbe_) April 5, 2017
At the end of the day, I don’t want people to focus on the ad itself, because it’s pretty insignificant compared to some of the atrocities being committed across the globe. It’s the institutional racism, corporate greed, and misrepresentation of a narrative for personal gain that I’m trying to point. Honestly, I’d rather people dismiss Pepsi like they’re dismissing us. Pepsi does, however, need to be called out on their BS for trying to sell us a narrative, and for their weak/out of touch social commentary. L.
4. The ad romanticized the different social movements going on around the world
The way Pepsi lumped all the protesters together gives off the impression that they don’t see individual causes. Also, the representation of certain groups and the roles they play seemed pretty off; the last protest I saw didn’t really look like that Pepsi ad. That’s not to say that any individual social issue is necessarily more important than the next, but I think it’s crucial to at least try to acknowledge the differences and work to move forward from there. Pepsi’s ad almost feels like America trying to sweep our voice under the rug, but in the most “politically correct” way possible while still making money. If Pepsi had taken the time to donate to some of the causes that it was pseudo supporting, then maybe the backlash wouldn’t be so severe. Instead, this major corporation played off of what they saw as a trend to promote their brand. L.
5. The use of their product as the solution to the worlds problems and the blatant ways they’re trying to profit off of the social commentary “trend”
So I’ve been noticing more and more companies doing these commercials in “support” of or to “bring awareness” to a certain cause. Some of them, like Nike’s latest ad, sit well and don’t overly push their product. Pepsi, on the other hand, tried to “unite” the world with a soda that people don’t even really like. Their use of “resistance culture” and the purely capitalist motives behind their latest campaign are sickening and disturbing. Women are being abused, people of color are being abused, LGBTQ people are being abused, or the environment is being abused, our MFing legal system is being abused every single day! Here, have a Pepsi, just forget about it