Written by 2:44 pm ARTS & CULTURE, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Social Media Protests over Polemic Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad

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The latest Pepsi ad has been a hot topic of discussion since its release. The ad features Kendall Jenner in a protest-themed commercial. Critics have called the ad a tone-deaf attempt to co-opt a movement of political resistance.

The advertisement, titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem,” was released this past Tuesday and features the Skip Marley song “Lions” as its background music. The commercial begins by portraying Jenner in the middle of a photoshoot donning a blonde wig, silver dress and high heels. Jenner observes a large protest passing by, mainly consisting of a diverse crowd of young people marching through the streets with signs as they appear to be chanting and even raising their fists at points.

After seeing the protest pass by their business, a musician and then a headscarf-clad photographer join the crowd, after sipping some of their Pepsi, naturally. Finally, Jenner seems prompted to join the masses after the aforementioned musician, now marching among the crowd, gives her a knowing look. Jenner then pulls off her blonde wig, smears her ox blood lipstick and walks right out of the photoshoot into the protesting crowd.

The ad then goes on to depict Jenner—dressed more casually in jeans and a tee-shirt with her natural brown hair set loose—among the crowd, now further along in some sort of open space. A line of policemen in uniforms are stationed in what seems to be a human barrier before the crowd of protesters. Upon reaching them, Jenner grabs a can of Pepsi and hands it to one of the police officers. The photographer captures the picturesque moment when the cop and Jenner share a smile as he accepts the can of Pepsi.

The police officer then opens the can, takes a sip and smiles at his fellow officers, which causes the protesting mass of people to erupt in animated roars of approval. It seems implied at this moment that, upon accepting and sipping the Pepsi, the policeman is displaying approval for the cause being voiced by the protestors. Thus, Pepsi becomes a symbol of this rebellion and push for justice.

The advertisement then culminates in Jenner and the mass of protesters marching, accompanied by the slogan “Live bolder, live louder, live for now.” The implicit message here is that the Pepsi is not only a symbol of the protest, but is also associated with the strength needed for one to voice their opinions… seems like a lot of power for a can of soda.

The campaign quickly elicited rapid-fire and unforgiving comments on social media. The main accusations of such comments being that Pepsi is merely appropriating the spirit and aesthetic of anti-Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter, and other currently popular and well-known movements in an attempt to sell their products.

One Twitter user declared, “The worst thing about that Pepsi ad, beyond the blatant disrespect and disregard, is the amount of people that greenlit that advertisement.”

Another found the ad misleading particularly because of the portrayal of the scene between Jenner and the cop, implying that following the logic implicit of the commercial, “we should just give Putin & Assad & Trump a can of Pepsi & everything will be fine?”

Numerous other Twitter users were quick to criticize the association of the images displayed in the advertisement with those of the iconic Tank Man of Tiananmen Square and the recent “Taking a Stand in Baton Rouge.”

A Pepsi spokesperson gave a statement to Entertainment Weekly saying, “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.”

Despite this initial statement, Pepsi made an announcement this Wednesday informing that it would stop using the ad and declaring, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

Jenner, on the other, has made no comment on the controversial commercial as of now.

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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