Yesterday, Pepsi released a less-than-inspired ad featuring Kendall Jenner handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer, amid a sea of protesters who were protesting, well, something. (For peace? Against peace? It’s unclear.) The ad is tone-deaf, to say the least, not least at the moment Jenner hands the soda to the cop — who knew a cola was the answer to police brutality and racial inequality in this country? — in mimicry of the now-famous photo of Ieshia Evans being arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge. In Pepsi’s version, it’s Jenner ripping off a blonde wig and wiping away her lipstick to join the protest party.
Hours after the ad came out, Pepsi committed — despite growing outrage — to standing by its ad with a statement. (The company would renege and pull the ad a day later.) “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,” Pepsi said. To be fair: People from different walks of life came together yesterday in a spirit of harmony, to bomb on this ad.
Your move, Coke.
Update, April 5, 2017, at 1:21 p.m.: Pepsi pulled the ad, just one day after releasing it. The company provided a statement and apologized to Kendall Jenner.
Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.
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