Pepsi’s protest-themed ad with Kendall Jenner faces backlash

Swapping police brutality for a nice cold can

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Kendall Jenner Pepsi
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Pepsi has released its latest ad, featuring model Kendall Jenner, who ultimately spearheads the homogenous resistance to unite everyone with a cold can.

So far, the advert has been trashed for being tasteless and trivialising several important movements. The ‘Live for Now’ commercial sees Jenner rip off her blonde wig and ditch a modeling job to join a protest. A crowd marches with banners that read with lukewarm slogans like ‘join the conversation’. There are shots of a guy playing a cello, and a woman in hijab making her own signs. 

As Jenner joins the protest, she approaches police officers and hands one a beverage. This moment in particular has been called out by some, for mirroring the now iconic image of Ieshia Evans during a Black Lives Matter protest; instead, it’s a privileged, rich, white model. As the officer cracks it open, the crowd cheers: somehow, this is a victory for social activism.

The ad has been pretty much unanimously dragged as tone-deaf and performative. Protests are counter-culture, and many agree it isn’t the place for a corporation to co-opt the resistance, especially at a time when challenging the current political and social climate is so essential: people came together across the world for the women’s march, for Trayvon Martin and Black Lives Matter, to protest the Muslim ban and Trump’s continual joke executive orders.

Pepsi told Adweek: “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.”

“The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert,” the brand said in a statement to Teen Vogue. “It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”

“I am thrilled to join the legendary roster of icons who have represented their generations and worked with Pepsi,” Jenner said in a previous statement. “To me, Pepsi is more than just a beverage – it registers as a pop culture icon and a lifestyle that shares a voice with the generation of today. The spirit of Pepsi – living in the ‘now’ moment – is one that I believe in. I make a conscious effort in my everyday life and travels to enjoy every experience of today.”

Check out some of the reactions to the ad from the Twittersphere below.

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