Pepsi pulled the ad after just one day.
Last April, Pepsi released a commercial starring Kendall Jenner that was so tone-deaf it was pulled from the airwaves and the internet after just one day. The ad featured a diverse crowd of good-looking people in stylish clothes marching through the streets with signs that read “peace,” “love,” and “join the conversation.” But in a massive display of corporate cold feet, the demonstrators aren’t protesting anything specific.
In the midst of all the Disneyfied outrage, model and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” star Kendall Jenner is doing a photo shoot. Jenner witnesses the demonstrators marching past her, and in an act of privileged defiance, she throws on some stylish denim and joins the people’s aimless resistance. In the end, Jenner makes peace with the riot police by being flirty and sharing a Pepsi.
Contextually, the ad was released during a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans were hitting the streets to protest law enforcement’s violence against black people, the election of Donald Trump, and to support women’s rights. The spot belittled these movements by leveraging this historical tide of outrage to sell soda. Pepsi also completely missed the point by casting Kendall Jenner, a member of America’s most materialistic, self-promoting family, as a leader of this collective movement.
The ad immediately faced massive backlash:
"Kendall please! Give him a Pepsi!" pic.twitter.com/IntFNmCpTr— Zito (@_Zeets) April 4, 2017\n
Pepsi pulled the spot and released an apology. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” the soda giant wrote 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.”
On the most recent episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” Kendall Jenner finally spoke out about the ad and gave a tearful apology. “When I first got this offer — I mean, it’s a huge company. The people I was following were so iconic and amazing,” Jenner confessed. “Michael Jackson has done it. Britney Spears has done it. Beyoncé has done it, Pink. The list goes on. So to get something like that was just — it was so exciting.”
After seeing the outrage directed at the spot, Jenner says she “completely shut down.” She remained silent about the ad because her parent Caitlin Jenner said speaking out would only make things worse. But now she’s ready to be honest about the commercial. “I would never purposely hurt someone, ever, and if I knew this would’ve been the outcome, I never would’ve done something like this,” she said. “The fact that I would offend or hurt other people was definitely not the intent. And that’s what got me the most, is that I would’ve ever made anyone else upset.”