An extra for Kendall Jenner’s controversial Pepsi ad, which was recently pulled due to its insensitivity to protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, has said most the actors involved weren’t American and therefore didn’t understand the ad’s racial implications. Speaking anonymously to People, the extra said many actors were from countries such as Thailand and didn’t expect there to be such backlash against the ad. “I don’t live in the U.S.A. Maybe if I lived there and knew the [issues] before then, maybe I would feel bad,” the actor from Bangkok said.
The commercial, titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem,” was shot in Thailand rather than the U.S., though it is intended to be set in an American city. A production coordinator told People the decision to shoot in Thailand, where extras would be cheaper, was likely made to keep costs down.
Since the ad’s release, many have been quick to criticize it on social media, calling it tone deaf or disrespectful. The anonymous actor told People he was surprised to be so criticized for participating in the ad. “It’s like, I was just doing my job. They asked me to be in the commercial.”
— Pepsi™ (@pepsi) April 5, 2017
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 6, 2017
The actor says Pepsi told the extras the Kendall Jenner ad was meant to show unity. “I think they tried to show the meaning that people from every country can be together. That’s what I had understood, but maybe now I’m misunderstanding.”
Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and released an apology to Jenner. Others however have continued to criticize Jenner’s willingness to participate in the advertisement. The anonymous extra believes Pepsi “took it down to protect Kendall.”
However, the Thai extra has positive things to say about his experience with the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star. He claims the atmosphere on set was a fun one and that Jenner “talked when people talked to her.”
— deray mckesson (@deray) April 4, 2017
Though Pepsi apologized for the ad, it has continued to be a topic of conversation and criticism on social media. A source close to Kendall Jenner told People that the reality star is notably upset over the reaction to the commercial.
“To get a Pepsi gig was a big deal. She was very excited. She never expected it to receive such backlash. She hopes people understand that she wasn’t involved in the creative process.”
Some have debated how responsible the 21-year-old model and reality star is for the Pepsi ad. According to USA Today, Kris Jenner and daughter Kendall have kept tight-lipped about their involvement in the creation of the commercial. Eric Schiffer, CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, claims however that it’s unlikely a celebrity of Jenner’s stature would be unaware of the ad’s content going into production.
Unlike many models who might not have a choice as far as what ads they appear in, Schiffer says Kendall Jenner and her mother would have known about the Pepsi ad’s content prior to shooting. “They did not enter into this in naïve fashion, it was a giant miscalculation that reared its ugly soda head on the Kardashians…This is a case when content slapped them in the face.”
— LGBTeens Magazine (@LGBTeensMag) April 5, 2017
Schiffer also says it is only a matter of time before Jenner’s image bounces back from the Pepsi ad controversy. Erik Bernstein, vice president of Bernstein Crisis Management, also told USA Today that though Jenner was most likely not involved in the ad’s creation, her team would have known about it’s content before going to Thailand.
Bernstein also said Jenner’s fan base likely doesn’t care about the Pepsi controversy. “Her most rabid fans do not care about her behavior.”
For the time being, the Pepsi commercial starring Kendall Jenner and its backlash is still a hot topic of conversation on social media.
[Featured Image by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images]