The controversial ad by Pepsi featuring Kendall Jenner at a protest has been pulled by the company after it came under fire, the company removed the video from Youtube.
Pepsi issued a statement saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global a message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
The ad cause strong backlash on social media. It was strongly criticized for trivialize demonstrations meant to tackle social justice causes. The ad was accused of suggesting that protestors and police would get along better if the former were kinder and being insensitive with regard to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the ad, Jenner a model and member of the high profile and celebrity Kardashian family, is shown leaving a modeling shoot to join a crowd of young, diverse protesters.
She offers a can of Pepsi to a police officer, he takes a sip and smiles at his colleague causing the protesters to cheer.
The ad was mocked by several people, among them Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She tweeted a photo of her father being confronted by a police officer at a protest march and wrote: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi.”
According to professor of marketing at Pace University, Larry Chiagouris, the strong backlash was in part due to Pepsi being a couple of years “late to the party” with its message about unity, which made its ad seem exploitive.
Not Pepsi’s first pulled ad:
This is not the first time Pepsi apologized and pulled an ad. An ad for the soft drink Mountain Dew was pulled in 2013 after it was criticized for portraying racial stereotypes and appearing to make light of violence toward women.