Pepsi has pulled its controversial and much-mocked new advert starring Kendall Jenner.
The model and reality star, whose half-sister Kim Kardashian is married to Kanye West, shared the advert on Twitter on Tuesday night (April 4). It showed her finishing a photo shoot before handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer who is supervising a protest, seemingly as a goodwill gesture. Jenner, known for her appearances of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, then joins the protest herself.
Color of Change, a US advocacy group that campaigns to “end practices that unfairly hold Black people back,” accused the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star of “appropriating our pain and struggle”. Color of Change also highlighted the similarity between the advert’s imagery and a famous photograph of Black Lives Matter activist Leshia Evans, which was taken last year at a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
— ColorOfChange.org (@ColorOfChange) April 5, 2017
Pepsi initially responded to the controversy by saying in a statement: “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.”
However, the corporation has since bowed to pressure on social media and pulled the campaign completely. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” it said in a statement. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
When the advert launched on Tuesday night, many Twitter users criticised it for being “tone deaf”. Some also suggested Jenner should donate her fee to charity.
The cop's face at the end. 😂 "You know, this thin white woman makes a good point. Pepsi MIGHT BE better than state violence!" pic.twitter.com/kaPiAvmyQQ
— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) April 4, 2017
What was @Pepsi thinking in making Kendall Jenner the champion of conquering racism? Who decided to ship that ad? Talk about being tone deaf
— Le Tang (@letaang) April 4, 2017
— ✨Danielle✨ (@luckystars00) April 5, 2017
— Honestly Ryan (@rallen118) April 5, 2017