Update: On Wednesday afternoon, PepsiCo pulled the new Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner, as a result of overwhelmingly negative reactions on social media (see more specifics in original story, below). The ad was accused of appropriating and trivializing the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
PepsiCo said that it had pulled the content and halted any further rollout. The company reiterated that its intention had been to "project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," but acknowledged that it had "clearly missed the mark."
Without mentioning Black Lives Matter, PepsiCo apologized, stating: "We did not intend to make light of any serious issue." The company added: "We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."
A new Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner being suddenly converted from shallow, blonde-wigged model to committed, dark-haired protester has elicited plenty of social buzz — much of it mocking or critical.
In the ad, posted on YouTube on Monday and publicized starting Tuesday, Jenner’s consciousness is raised by beckoning from one of the young protesters who happen to be walking by her photo shoot.
After doffing her wig (and apparently doing a flash wardrobe change into jeans, offscreen), she joins the protest, and immediately makes herself the center of attention by walking up to a young police officer to offer him a can of Pepsi. He gratefully accepts, takes a gulp, and smiles at the roaring approval of the crowd of protesters.
That scene, of course, directly mimics the real-life event of last July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in which nurse and mother leshia Evans calmly and peacefully stood her ground as police in riot gear appeared to rush toward her during a “Black Lives Matter” protest.
The ad, backed by Skip Marley’s “Lions,” was also released in a 2:39 long-form version.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, the long-form version was still trending, and was showing nearly 1.1 million views on YouTube — with nearly 15,000 dislikes to 2,900 likes. The 30-second ad was showing 78,000-plus views, with about 1,200 dislikes to 400 likes.
“Many social media users ripped it to shreds,” reportedVariety. “Reactions ranged from humorous jabs (‘Hi, I’m Rachel Dolezal for Crystal Pepsi’) to calls for whoever greenlit the commercial to be fired.”
A sampling of tweeted jabs included “Protests are so in right now,” “kendall jenner hands cops a pepsi…cop: im not a racist anymore,” and “theory: that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad is actually a Coke ad.” Also: “I’m sure @pepsi already has an apology drafted. These companies are not THAT tone deaf. They’re using controversy to their advantage.”
PepsiCo, which created the ad in its in-house Creators League Studio, issued a statement last night saying: “This global ad “reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirt of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
The ad, dubbed “Jump In,” is part of an umbrella campaign in which the brand says it plans to “celebrate life’s 'Live for Now' moments” throughout 2017.