A couple of days ago, Pepsi launched a commercial which spread like wildfire in a matter of days. However, it didn’t take long for it to become the biggest controversy of this week. In terms of production, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial looks great to the naked eye. After all, Pepsi is a creative giant when it comes to marketing. The plot revolves around young people protesting peacefully in the streets while Kendall performs a photo shoot. Then the rain of criticism is present in the real world, right on the other side of the screen.
Soon after its launch, the Pepsi commercial flooded with a rain of criticism. Analysts and activists criticized the commercial for “trivializing the social moments and not understanding the generation ‘Millenial.'” These criticisms surged to great extents that the commercial became the most controversial video from the most popular one in the online world and Pepsi had to cancel it only 24 hours after its broadcast.
According to criticism, the commercial’s problem is that it makes a mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement against violence towards black people. In 2016, the young Iesha Evans was arrested after approaching a police officer in peaceful resistance (same way as Kendall Jenner does in the commercial) during protests in Baton Rouge related to the shootings that led to the death of unarmed black citizens at the hands of white police in Missouri and Baltimore.
But even worse, the commercial was released on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, which eventually raised the criticism of the activist’s own daughter.
The United States is going through a rather complex time in the political and social realm. The arrival of Donald Trump to the presidency brought with it much resentment, hatred, and susceptibility to the slightest provocation that gives force to a racist right. But the people haven’t forgotten their American values, which is why feminist movements, Muslim associations and Black/Latino communities have risen to defend their respective interests.
According to the creative team, the campaign was conceived under the premise of “the moments when we decided to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and let nothing stop us.” With this, Pepsi tried to project a message of unity, peace, and understanding from a more digestible point of view, with color, Skip Marley’s music in the background and a media figure of the moment like Kendall Jenner.
However, the combination of a serious situation as mentioned and a “socialite” member of one of the most controversial families on television, left nothing good. Although Jenner has tried to get away from the scandals and fame of her family to gain her own merits in the modeling world, the shadow of her sisters has caused her not to be taken seriously and to stand as a bad influence or simply as someone who represents everything but social movements.
To continue against Kendall, there were observers who noticed an act of racism when in a scene Kendall Jenner removes her blonde wig and as she passes between two people one of whom happens to be an African-American, she hands over her wig to that black lady, treating her with contempt. Here’s a close-up of that encounter
“The worst part of the commercial is when Kendall decides to protest against racism by having a black woman hold her wig.” Pepsi undoubtedly wanted to reach out with a message of unity and raise a generation that doesn’t stop speaking out against injustices. However, with Kendall Jenner on their team, it was perhaps likely that things would take a different leap.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]