BrandArena: Pepsi Pulls Controversial Advert Starring Kendall Jenner After Huge Backlash

Thursday 6 April 2017

Pepsi Pulls Controversial Advert Starring Kendall Jenner After Huge Backlash

Pepsi has pulled its new ad showing supermodel Kendall Jenner using the soft drink to quell a riot after a barrage of criticism on social media.

The 21-year-old was accused of “mocking” the Black Lives Matter movement and “appropriating the resistance” in the commercial, which seems to be inspired by a famous photo of a woman standing up to police at a US protest last year.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Pepsi announced it was removing the advert and apologised for “missing the mark” and putting the supermodel in an awkward position.

In the short video, Miss Jenner, wearing a blonde wig and posing for the cameras, is caught up in the midst of a demonstration when she throws off the wig, grabs a can of Pepsi and hands it to a grim-faced police officer, who accepts it and smiles, to the cheers of the placated crowd.

"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," the company said Wednesday afternoon in a post on its website. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."

Created by Pepsi's in-house ad agency, the sweeping spot features Jenner breaking from a modeling shoot, doffing a blonde wig and joining the swelling ranks of a generic street march, where she defuses the tension by handing a Pepsi to a cute cop.

In the YouTube description for the ad, titled ‘Live for Now Moments Anthem,’ Pepsi called it “a short film about the moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back. Capturing the spirit and actions of those people that jump into every moment and featuring multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive."

However, many posters had a different take, saying Pepsi was co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement and making light of issues that have mobilized political resistance in recent years.

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