Here's Why Kendall Jenner Can Never Escape The Backlash From Her 2017 Pepsi Commercial

Here's Why Kendall Jenner Can Never Escape The Backlash From Her 2017 Pepsi Commercial
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris

Few occurrences in the domain of celebrity blunder and corporate errors have left as permanent an impression as Kendall Jenner's Pepsi commercial. Despite the passage of time, the fallout from this advertising continues to haunt her. Let's look at the consequences of Jenner's decision to participate in the ad and her subsequent refusal to address public criticism.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin

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In April 2017, Pepsi released a commercial in which Jenner appears to resolve a protest by presenting a can of cola to a police officer. The advertisement was met with harsh criticism. People from all political backgrounds denounced it for attempting to diminish real-world protests and the important concerns they represent. In a period of political upheaval and social movements, the ad's suggestion that a fizzy beverage might suddenly bring about peace struck a dissonant note.

Pepsi's reaction to the outrage compounded the situation. Their statement highlighted a message of togetherness, peace, and understanding, but it failed to address the underlying issue, which was the ad's trivialization of major social and political issues, per Time Magazine. The advertisement seemed to imply that sharing a Pepsi could somehow cure society's profound differences and systematic injustices.



While the Pepsi ad's material was questionable, Jenner's reaction to the accompanying outcry further exacerbated the matter. Jenner chose to remain silent for six months, despite her sister Kim Kardashian's suggestion to handle the situation quickly and honestly, reports Buzzfeed. Because of her silence, social media erupted with calls for her cancellation, compelling her family members to intervene and speak on her behalf. According to Buzzfeed, if Jenner had followed her sister's advice and delivered an instant sincere apology, the news cycle might have moved on. Her failure to acknowledge the ad's concerns, on the other hand, simply solidified her link with it. 

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Jenner's silence had far-reaching consequences following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Her failure to speak out against racial injustice, as well as her participation in the contentious ad, made her a target for criticism. Even actions unrelated to the advertisement, such as uploading an edited photo of herself at a demonstration, were evaluated through the lens of her previous mistake.

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Jenner's failure to confront the Pepsi incident hurt her own advocacy efforts. When she finally issued a statement condemning racism, she was received with suspicion and criticism for her slowness. Her initiatives in support of social causes were viewed skeptically, with some claiming she was more concerned with image repair than genuine advocacy.

Under a Reddit thread with the topic "What exactly was so controversial about the kendall jenner pepsi commercial?", Muldyonionsauce answered stating, "Simplifying the living hell out of a complex race/class/economic issue for the sole purpose of advertising and marketing."

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