In wake of the national Women’s March in 2017, #BlackLivesMatter (#BLM) protests, and similar demonstrations around contemporary social issues, Pepsi introduced an advertisement that featured model/celebrity, Kendall Jenner, among a racially diverse set of young people gearing up for a street protest. The protest distracts a musician, a photographer, and model (played by Jenner), who leave their work to join the group on the streets. Jenner walks through the crowd and protests with a cheerful disposition, with a can of Pepsi in hand. The advertisement ends with her handing a police officer a Pepsi.
Who is participating in the protest? Why do you think the ad feature such a range of identities?
How is the protest depicted? Do you get a sense of the political or social issue that is igniting the protestors? What is their mood?
What role does Kendall Jenner play in the advertisement? What is significant about the close up shot of her eyes?
What message does this advertisement convey in regards to Pepsi and social movements?
Many criticized the advertisement as being tone-deaf to the political climate, current social issues, and news events. Individuals and media outlets called out the ad for co-opting contemporary social movements as a marketing tactic. Jenner’s role was also widely critiqued, specifically her interaction with the police officer. Despite the company’s initial claim that the global ad “reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey, ” Pepsi quickly pulled the ad in response to the criticisms.