Saturday Night Live is never one to shy away from skewering a celebrity or company if they deserve it. That includes the tone-deaf ad that Pepsi aired, featuring Kendall Jenner, only to pull it a few days later in response to online backlash. In a three and a half minute spoof, SNL imagines what it must have been like for the novice director, who after talking to his sister, brother-in-law, and a neighbor, realizes that maybe, he’s made a huge mistake.
The director, played by Beck Bennett, fields a phone call from his sister while on set and tries to fire her up about this really cool commercial he’s making.
“It’s an homage to the resistance. There’s this huge protest in the street, reminiscent of Black Lives Matter. Everybody is marching and they get to these police officers and you think it’s going to go bad because there’s kind of a standoff. And then…Kendall Jenner walks in. She walks up to one of the police officers and hands him a Pepsi. And then…that Pepsi brings everyone together. Isn’t that the best ad ever?”
— HuffPost Weird News (@HuffPostWeird) April 11, 2017
Bennett listens to his sister, whose voice you can’t hear, but you can see his reaction. The smile on his face goes away bit by bit until there’s just a questioning look on his face. He counters by suggesting that maybe she doesn’t get it, but maybe her husband Doug will.
He explains the premise again to his brother-in-law, and after a few seconds of unheard criticism, he tries to defend his commercial, mumbling defenses, before realizing that they’re only using different cultures to sell soda.
Still, he’s not one to give up. Our plucky director asks Doug to put a black neighbor on the phone. Maybe she’ll get it. He starts out explaining that the whole thing is an homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, but gets stopped right in his tracks.
“Don’t even touch it? I’d be insane to touch it? Don’t even show police?” As the director looks around and realizes this has gone a bit too far, he asks the neighbor, “What would you do if you were in my situation?” The answer is that he should just run to his car.
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) April 11, 2017
To cap it off, Saturday Night Live enlisted cast member Cecily Strong to play Kendall Jenner who talks on her phone as she heads to the shoot.
“I stop the police from shooting black people by handing them a Pepsi. I know, it’s cute, right?”
The Original Ad and Online Response
The Pepsi ad that the SNL spot makes fun of was an actual commercial that makes use of those actual ideas. When it first aired, online users were quick to notice the tone-deafness of the ad that was attempting to use the Black Lives Matter resistance and other movements to simply shill soda.
One Twitter user wrote, “that pepsi ad made me want to buy a coke.”
Another pointed out that “the worst thing about that Pepsi ad, beyond the blatant disrespect and disregard, is the amount of people who greenlit that advertisement.”
Pepsi attempted to defend the ad, telling Entertainment Weekly that, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
They also told Teen Vogue that the ad was meant to showcase “Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered, and uninhibited.”
However, in response to the criticism, Pepsi pulled the ad on Wednesday in response to the unabashed criticism. However to be fair, as one twitter user noted, “…their ad did bring people together.”
[Featured Image by Raoul Gatchalian/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images]