Jaya Saxena wrote in Elle, “This scene, which invokes a now iconic photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans being arrested in front of police line in Baton Rouge—but instead places a white, rich, supermodel in the focus, feels particularly egregious.”
Pepsi sparked controversy with the ad released featuring reality TV star and model Kendall Jenner April 4. Pepsi shed light on the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and has since removed the content from the company’s YouTube. The advertisement was part of Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign, according to AdAge.
The ad, called “Jump In,” depicted protesters to be young, happy and free-spirited. The ad showed that any issue could be resolved with a can of Pepsi. At its climactic scene, Jenner walked up to a police officer blocking the protest and made amends with a sip of the soda.
Jenner’s final scene was believed to directly reference a photograph of Ieshia Evans, who was detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana July 2016. Evans’ photo is known to be one of the most powerful images of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Pepsi brought light to a movement that involved hardship, sacrifice and death. Pepsi released a public apology the following day after receiving immense criticism.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” company stated in a press release. “Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize.”
However, the company’s apology did not cut it. The damage had already been done. The company wanted to send a message of unity, peace and understanding, yet it divided people from the company, created backlash towards the ad and was not clear about the message it was intended to convey.
Pepsi also apologized to Jenner for putting her in the position that she is in. Jenner has been the center of attention since the ad was pulled. Jenner has yet to release a statement regarding the commercial, as she seems to be laying low.
With no statement, Jenner has received increased backlash towards the matter. Critics have accused Jenner of being a “self-promotional tool” as well as a supporter of appropriating resistance.
“The Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco is a perfect example of what happens when there’s no black people in the room when decisions are being made” said Travon Free in a tweet.
Twitter has been the main source of backlash towards the commercial. #Pepsi trended and showed that virtually no one was in defense of the company. In reference to the ad, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King took it to social media to express her disdain towards the company.
“If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” said King in a tweet.
King’s tweet slammed the company and its ad in a single post. King included a photo of her father from the “March Against Fear” demonstration in 1966.
The company could have gone with hundreds of other choices to bring a message of understanding, yet Pepsi decided to go with an ad with protestors holding signs with vague messages such as “Peace” and “Join the conversation.”
The ad depicted that protesting is fun and that everyone should do it, not to mention that it is easy to make amends, as long as you have a can of Pepsi handy.