The controversial Pepsi advertisement starring Kendall Jenner was officially pulled Wednesday, April 5th. The advertisement received tons of backlash for the way it made light of protests and movements. The company also released an official apology.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
The pivotal point in the commercial (posted above) is when Jenner gives the police officer a Pepsi. There are many things that occur in those few seconds.
First: The officer looks uninterested and unapproachable, but a young White woman is able to enter his direct space without being reprimanded. She isn’t told to step back. He doesn’t even open his mouth to her, and he accepts the drink from her hand.
Second: He takes a sip of the drink and smiles. He drops his wall of unapproachableness because of a drink. Despite the thousands of people peacefully protesting in his presence, a soda is what makes him receptive to the cause.
Third: After becoming receptive, he then turns to another officer and publicly attempts to influence him to let down his wall.
This commercial has several unrealistic components. This is not what protests for serious issues look like. It is not that easy to approach an officer. Countless videos show that protestors that approach officers are deemed defiant and then arrested while complying and being told they’re resisting. There are peaceful protests where officers look frozen in the face with privileged disconnectedness. And it is rare that an officer publicly tries to get other officers to see the error of their ways.
While the signs struck a chord with those who saw the similarities between previous Black Lives Matter protests, this advertisement could also be offensive to Muslims and those affected by the Immigration Act, the LGBT community that recently received lawful equality, women who still don’t make what men do, “colored folks” beaten and thrown out of diners, slaves whipped for speaking their minds, the Japanese thrown in concentration camps, the millions of Blacks and Hispanics disproportionally incarcerated, the women who’s rapist got a slap on the wrist, the Black man shot while reaching for his wallet, the Black man shot while running away, the Black woman thrown to the ground for failure to signal a lane change, the Black boy shot for playing with a toy gun and so many more.
A Pepsi would not have resolved any of those situations, and whether it was intentional or not, this advertisement insinuated that. I completely understand what Pepsis was trying to do, but there was a better way to do it.