Protests have always served as a tool to provoke change. From the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter movement of this generation, marching and protests have forced the world to pay attention to injustice. So when Pepsi and Kendall Jenner attempted to use the spirit of protests to sell soda, the ad was met with backlash.
The commercial begins with Jenner wearing a blonde wig during a photo shoot. But during the photo shoot, Jenner notices a protest occurring. and takes off her wig and makeup and joins the march. She then grabs a Pepsi and hands it to a police officer as the protesters cheer.
The ad failed because it served as a mockery of Black Lives Matter protests. The commercial appears to suggest that a soda can begin to heal the rift between police and protesters. However, the killings of unarmed Blacks such as Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile can’t be undone by a soft drink. The racism and police corruption in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Chicago will never end if some believe that a soda could be the remedy. And now that Trump and Jeff Sessions are looking to turn a blind eye on police misconduct, it’s important to create a true narrative.
Jenner and those who worked on the Pepsi campaign failed to identify with the people they were attempting to reach. But when the decision makers are out of touch, it reflects on the brand. It’s highly unlikely that Jenner or the marketing reps for the campaign have ever taken the time to march in Ferguson, Baltimore, or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Moreover, they probably never had a conversation with a person who participated in a Black Lives Matter protest.
At press time, Jenner and Pepsi are both standing by the message and tone of the ad.
— Suade (@_Suade) April 5, 2017
“Kendall please! Give him a Pepsi!” pic.twitter.com/IntFNmCpTr
— Zito (@_Zeets) April 4, 2017
So you mean to tell me this whole time all we had to do was offer a cop a Pepsi and they wouldn’t kill unarmed Blacks during routine stops? pic.twitter.com/pvqNEpLTz6
— NANA JIBRIL ??️? (@girlswithtoys) April 5, 2017
Pepsi got Kendall out here at a protest like its Coachella… if y’all don’t get tf…
— Antoinette Childs (@TheFancyFriend) April 5, 2017
The white feminist themes in this Pepsi commercial is false af. For the millionth time, Black/WOC are leading the resistance.
— Lord Rach (@RachaeltheLord) April 5, 2017