Late last week, Pepsi Co. released a new ad starring Kendall Jenner. If you haven’t seen the ad, let’s just say it was a bit … controversial.
The commercial highlights protests and social injustices (many of which people are experiencing around the world). Jenner is portrayed as the celebrity subject of a photo-shoot during a protest. She decides to shed her status as a celebrity (i.e. take off her blonde wig) and join the protest. When approaching a line of police officers, Jenner grabs a can of Pepsi, hands it to one of the officers, and the protestors suddenly begin to cheer.
Simply put, Kendall Jenner ends all protesting with a can of Pepsi.
Seems like the ad might not be so bad, eh? I mean, it acknowledges the many protests regarding various social injustices.
Not quite; the ad got a good bit of backlash from consumers, and rightly so.
Pepsi addresses social injustices and potential disconnects that some people might experience. In terms of this commercial, a disconnect exists between people who have to deal with negative effects of social issues like race, sexuality or a slew of other issues, and those who have enough social status to overcome those effects (at least, that’s how I took it).
The problem stems from Jenner’s character being able to simply shed her famous identity to promote peace and end the unrest by handing over a can of Pepsi.
Ironically, there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect when it came to ad reps at Pepsi and current social issues. There is unrest due to political and social injustices among the population due to said disconnect between social groups, and unfortunately it’s not as simple as someone of importance ending the strife and making everyone happy.
People in this country have struggled with racism, sexism, gender binaries and other forms of inequality for ages. Taken literally, a celebrity isn’t going to end that with a can of soda; from a less literal point of view, these sorts of protests aren’t simply going to disappear because of kindness … Being nice to oppressors doesn’t exactly work too well.
Women didn’t get the right to vote until they demanded it. Black people didn’t get equal rights until we demanded it. People of the LGBTQ+ community are currently fighting for their rights to use the bathroom they want, and they have been for years.
I think the ad was poorly presented; handing a can of Pepsi to someone (or any fizzy beverage) obviously doesn’t solve a problem of this magnitude. Ad reps at Pepsi Co. may not have intended such a negative outcome, but it’s definitely how many consumers perceived it.