OK, we can see where Pepsi were going by jumping on the whole protest bandwagon. We’re stuck in a 1980s time warp of intolerance and super-conservatism at the moment that requires an awful lot of marching, sign waving and sticking it to the man.
Uncomfortably, a lot of big corporate companies have cottoned on to our wide-spread anger at the way things are, and are attempting to relate to us via their advertising in order to harvest our money and our kudos at the same time. However, as these companies are largely the purveyors of inequality, and more than a little wrapped up in the establishment, the crassness of this new ploy isn’t lost on us (see all the ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ commercial posts last month for example. Even Tinder sent us one).
So, after watching Kendall Jenner chuck her blonde wig at a black stylist and be charmed into a multi-racial street protest by the lure of an Asian guy’s gaze, we’re left with the bitter taste of irony washed down with the dregs of cultural insensitivity. And it seems an awful lot of people are feeling the same way. Especially when she seemingly solves racial and gender inequality by handing a policeman a can of Pepsi. Who knew it was all so simple?
Some of the responses to the advert on Twitter have gone as far as to accuse Pepsi of “deleting the entire #BlackLivesMatter movement” in one swift wave of a white model’s arm:
Retweeted Zito (@_Zeets):
— Harolynne Bobis (@Amaliada) April 5, 2017
Hi Pepsi and Kendall, kindly deliver enough Pepsi to these Kenyan police ….elections are fast approaching pic.twitter.com/KgYushV6oz
— A Karani Onsomu (@erwoti) April 5, 2017
“Hold on hold on, she’s coming over with the Pepsi and you’ll see that this is just one big misunderstanding” pic.twitter.com/NHe29hyrWw
— Agony Wofa (@ProfessorKumi) April 5, 2017
Kendall Jenner: Can I copy off of you?
Iesha Evans: No.
Kendall:* Looks over shoulder anyway*
Damn that. I’m getting this Pepsi money. pic.twitter.com/NUXwCZnM7p
— C I L L My Landlord (@GuruBluXVIII) April 4, 2017
Then there are the endless comment pieces, including our personal favourite diatribe from I.D magazine.
Journalist Charlotte Gush writes: “Pepsi have succeeded in creating one of the most ignorant adverts it seems possible to dream up at a time of global protest, police brutality and corporate complicity. Starring in this absolute clusterfuck of stereotypes, racism and apparent erasure of the Black Lives Matter movement, Kendall Jenner is a model at a photoshoot, who sees a protest march go past the window and is moved to join it… but not before chucking her wig at the black stylist.”
The ad also stars a Muslim photographer in a hijab, some black guys, and Bob Marley’s grandson providing a pop-reggae soundtrack. “Live for now,” is the slogan. Which, given the rest of the advert, doesn’t entirely make sense either. Its certainly a-political enough a sentiment as to not really upset anyone, and therefore misses its own point of protest.
Pepsi has thus far responded to the backlash with the following: “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony. We think that’s an important message to convey.”
No word yet from Kendall, though that “#goals” Cindy Crawford shots of Pepsi merchandise she’s been posting over the weekend, we highly doubt she’s noticed and/or cares. She’s too busy counting the $$$.