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When cashing in on the resistance movement goes wrong: Pepsi ad fizzles

 

By Coshandra Dillard

++UPDATE++

Pepsi pulled the ad on Wednesday and released a statement:

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People aren’t happy about Pepsi’s new commercial, which hit the Internet on Tuesday and trended all day on Twitter. The advertisement was an attempt to speak to politically and socially conscious millennials, particularly those who have been involved in Black Lives Matter demonstrations. That’s nothing new. Corporations have always found ways to address societal issues and take a stand. But this one fell flat.

The ad is reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live sketch, in which a group of sales people attempt to pitch ideas that exploit current societal issues to advertising executives. Except, people weren’t laughing this time.

The more than two-minute ad features celebrity Kendall Jenner on a modeling assignment as a protest gets underway in a city street. Protestors hold signs that read “Join the Conversation.” They smile, dance and march.

When Jenner notices the crowd, she rips off her blonde wig and joins the action. As the crowd approaches a line of riot police officers, Jenner offers one a can of Pepsi. The officer drinks the soft drink, smiles, and the crowd cheers. The model has saved the day.

All it takes to end police brutality is Pepsi, eh?

The disdain for the commercial was swift. Activists say it co-opted a movement in which black people, particularly black women, were at the forefront. Critics felt it was an insult to use a white model who happens to be a member of the rich and appropriating Kardashian clan, as the heroine of the movement; and who also had not been vocal about police brutality and other issues related to marginalized groups.

The scene where she approaches the officers resembles the famous photo of Ieshia Evans facing police in riot gear, during a protest that followed the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge last summer. It ended with her getting arrested.

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Critics also noted the importance of having diverse voices involved in such corporate decisions, and the need for those voices to challenge the culturally inept.

Of course, Black Twitter was not going to let this slide:

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