Kendall Jenner, the 21-year-old fashion model who rode to fame as the half-sister of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, frantically attempted to distance herself on Wednesday from a controversial ad for Pepsi that appeared to portray Jenner as the leader of a “resistance” style protest march — and showed her ultimately defusing tensions with armed police by offering them a can of the popular cola. The ad sparked a wave of outrage across social media after it went viral on YouTube Tuesday, despite never actually airing in the United States.
The ad came under heavy criticism for appearing to use the efforts of protest groups such as Black Lives Matter, and other recent protest marches, simply to sell a brand of soda.
The ad was also blasted as racially insensitive, due in part to a shot in the commercial when Jenner pulls off a blonde wig and thrusts it into the hands of a nearby black woman — without asking or even looking at the woman.
— Andrew Scott (@ProducerAndrew) April 5, 2017
Pepsi quickly pulled the ad from distribution on Wednesday, following the widespread backlash. But the ad remains available online. View the entire Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad below on this page.
Jenner herself has not publicly commented on the controversial advertisement, but on Wednesday, a “source familiar with Jenner’s deal” attempted to disassociate Jenner from the ad, which was filmed recently in Thailand, saying that — despite the fact that Jenner was the central figure and only celebrity in the ad, she had “nothing to do” with its content.
“This is the first controversial campaign she has been involved with,” the “source” told Entertainment Tonight Online in an exclusive report. “Even though she had nothing to do with the production and the message of the campaign, she will be blamed for this since she is the face.”
The “source” also described Jenner as “devastated” by the overwhelmingly negative public response to the ad, which would have made her the first fashion model since Cindy Crawford appeared in ads for the soda in 1992 to spearhead a global Pepsi advertising campaign.
The climactic scene in the ad, in which Jenner hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer, came under specific attack.
— East Coast Breakfast (@ECRBreakfast) April 6, 2017
The scene, critics said, was an attempt to commercially exploit the iconic image of Ieshia Evans calmly being placed under arrest by a phalanx of armed riot police during a protest against the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year.
She should have brought a Pepsi pic.twitter.com/efxRXekSGZ
— Leo (@leloveiga) April 4, 2017
Jenner reportedly received a seven-figure paycheck for appearing in the now-removed Pepsi ad, but the ET Online “source” — who presumably is speaking for Jenner — put the blame squarely on Pepsi for the controversy surrounding the ad.
“Kendall relied on Pepsi to do their due diligence and trusted that it would be tasteful,” the source said. Jenner reportedly has signed a contract that strictly prohibits her from discussing the ad publicly, but that contract does not apply to anonymous sources “familiar” with Jenner.
View the entire, controversial Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad in the video below.
Rolling Stone magazine summarized the primary objections to the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad in an article published on Wednesday on the magazine’s website.
“It’s gallingly tone-deaf — a disrespect to the real injustices that drive people to the streets to argue that their black lives matter. It co-opts the image of Ieshia Evans, the 35-year-old nurse whose dignity and calm as she was arrested this past summer during a protest crystallized racial conflict in America for many,” the magazine wrote.
“And it aligns the Number 44 company on the Fortune 500 with protests that took root protesting Wall Street, and the massive inequities of the global capitalist system,” Rolling Stone concluded.
The Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, while it appears to invoke the wave of protests against the presidency of Donald Trump that have erupted across the United States since last November, makes no mention of or even allusion to Trump himself. The current CEO of Pepsi’s parent company PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, is one of only three women executives currently serving as part of Trump’s 19-member “business council.”
[Featured Image by Vittorio Zumino Celotto/Getty Images]