On Tuesday (April 4), Pepsi debuted a tone deaf commercial featuring Kendall Jenner lucidly making light of civil rights protests and Black Lives Matter. It took only a day for the soft drink giant to pull the ad following a well deserved dragging on Twitter.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday (April 5). “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.” They also issued an apology to KJ for putting her in a position to be scrutinized.
Many decried the commercial for being insensitive. The advertisement included peculiar commodities such as Kendall ripping off a blonde wig and handing it over to the nearest black woman, radiant young protesters smiling while holding up vague signs such as “Join the conversation,” Jenner dapping up the nearest black guy with a can of Pepsi and the most disparaging moment, her handing the ubiquitous blue can to a rather attractive cop.
The cop smiles and all is good in the world. Except that’s not the reality to the lot of brave activists who actually have participated in these protests. Past and current activists were typically subjected to being attacked by law enforcement dogs, gassed, pepper sprayed and hosed down with water canons while fighting for equality.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter Bernice King echoed these sentiments in a Tweet.
“If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” she tweeted along with a black and white photo of her father being pushed back by police officers.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
While the ad itself wasn’t a good idea, it did unite people in recognizing that using the plight, hurt and pain of people combatting everyday issues shouldn’t be used to sell sugary soda.
The ad sparked a Twitter storm of folks sarcastically tweeting that if only those protesters, including Ieshia Evans — a black woman who stood her ground while being charged by riot police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge last summer — had a Pepsi they would have been spared from police brutality.
if only she'd given them a pepsi pic.twitter.com/rVM8jkJrG4
— darkwing duck fan (@vmochama) April 4, 2017
If only Kendall Jenner was there to give them a Pepsi 😫 pic.twitter.com/EUe9mCBbwA
— Teymour (@Teymour_Ashkan) April 5, 2017
If only he was carrying Pepsi 🤦🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/XKnOl4nWZT
— ☠️ (@cj_gsh) April 5, 2017
— Erin Schrode (@ErinSchrode) April 5, 2017
— Tinsel Korey (@tinselkorey) April 5, 2017
"Hold Up! Is that Kendall Jenner holding a pepsi?" pic.twitter.com/9U1q5gQ901
— Soul Kid (@ISoulKidI) April 5, 2017