Pepsi has pulled its controversial advert and apologised to Kendall Jenner after drawing heavy criticism for seemingly trying to “cash in” on recent protests aimed at tackling racial and gender inequality.
The ad, which saw Jenner abandon a modelling shoot to join a march after locking eyes with a cute Asian boy, can no longer be seen on YouTube.
Scenes that made us cringe the hardest included the punchline, when the protest erupts into cheers as Jenner hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer (because Pepsi can prevent police brutality, didn’t you know?) and Jenner’s strut towards the march after pulling off her blonde wig and tossing it at her black stylist, despite not knowing what cause it’s even for.
People quickly noticed that the ad had seemingly tried to mirror a famous picture of a woman confronting riot police at a Black Lives Matter protest…
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
…and Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter Bernice joined in with the widespread mocking on Twitter by sharing a photo of her father being pushed back by a police officer at a march. “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi,” she wrote alongside it.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
Pepsi’s statement reads: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
— Pepsi™ (@pepsi) April 5, 2017
Sorry for making light of those minorities trying to make their voices heard in protests around the world, might have been more appropriate. Kendall could have said no, after all. But still, apologies have been made, and the ad has been consigned to history, destined to come top on many a ’10 stupidest adverts of all-time’ listicles, so that’s something.
This isn’t the first time that PepsiCo has removed an advert after a backlash. It pulled a Mountain Dew commercial in 2013 after being accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes and trivialising violence against women.