Update: Pepsi has issued a statement saying it is removing the Kendall Jenner protest ad and halting further roll out: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” said the company in a tweet.
— Pepsi™ (@pepsi) April 5, 2017
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A new Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner joining a protest march and using the drink as a peace offering to police offerings in the the midst of a protest march is pissing off everyone, including and especially lefty activist, but also right-wing racists.
The ad comes at an interesting time at least within the fashion world as there have been increasing conversation as of late related to the commercialization of feminism with signs and symbols of the movement showing up repeatedly in runway collections, often offered by global corporations with less than savory reputations.
As well, virtually every corporation in the world has for years been wrapping its tentacles in and around the creative world’s edgiest art and design scenes, and while such endeavors are described as collaborations, there is still an everyday quiet yet constant co-opting of alternate culture and what it stands for by corporations just like Pepsi.
The problem for Pepsi is that its ad blatantly line stepped across the border between art and commerce. Two scenes in the ad are especially egregious. The first shows Jenner pulling off her blonde wig and not just tossing, but throwing it at a black woman, which yep, the optics are so horrible that one can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a single black person working on the ad’s production team, much less an individual with even minimal levels of wokeness.
This part KILLS me.
Not only are they erasing the black woman from the resistance narrative, but THIS is the prop she’s used as. pic.twitter.com/gtVJIaLRCr
— Tora Shae (@BlackMajiik) April 4, 2017
The second is the moment when Jenner is shown passing an olive branch in the form of a Pepsi to a police officer, which some people view as inspired by the famed Jonathan Bachman image of protestor Ieshia Evans, who faced head on a heavily armed group of police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in July 2016.
— Taryn Finley (@_TARYNitUP) April 4, 2017
In response to the push back, Pepsi has sent a statement to the press, which reads, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
— kristina monllos (@kristinamonllos) April 5, 2017
Pepsi if it wanted to defend itself could point to the fact that there are a fair number of racists on Twitter who are also vocalizing their issues with the ad, including white supremacist @realcelineclair, who views it as a show of support for activist group Black Lives Matter. “Pepsi is a total disgrace for pushing the Racist Black Lives Matter movement. This is a White Nation get over it,” she wrote, adding to a timeline full of racist and bigoted tweets.
Pepsi is a total disgrace for pushing the Racist Black Lives Matter movement. This is a White Nation get over it.
— Celine Clair (@realCelineClair) April 4, 2017
Given Pepsi’s statement, it’s more than likely the soda company realized the ad would generate some push back, and knew it would come from both lefties and conservatives (aka racists), figuring in the end it would at least generate noise, ultimately placing a bet on the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Though given the tidal waves of grotesque behavior we’re faced with each day under the current administration, the buzz this ad generates will probably be rolled over within the next 24 hours by yet another event far more disturbing.