Pepsi has pulled an advert that sparked an outcry and accusations that the drinks maker was trivialising recent street protests across the US.
The advert featured reality TV star Kendall Jenner leaving a photo shoot to join a heavily policed demonstration. She defuses the tension by walking to the police line and handing an officer a can of Pepsi, prompting cheers.
In a statement posted on its website, Pepsi said they did not intend to make light of serious issues. The much-ridiculed advert was posted to YouTube on Tuesday evening ( April 4) but was no longer accessible there less than 24 hours later.
For nearly two years, there have been protests about the use of force by police against African Americans. And since the election, there have also been demonstrations against President Donald Trump.
The advert did not specify what the crowds of mainly young, and very good looking, people were marching for. Even their signs only had generic slogans like “conversation” and “voice”.
But within minutes of its launch, observers said it trivialised protests in cities like Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the police killing of black men.
“If I had carried Pepsi, I guess I never would have gotten arrested. Who knew?” said DeRay McKesson, a leading activist in the Black Lives Matter movement. “Pepsi, this ad is trash.”
What the US media said about the ad
“Pepsi should fire its ad agency.” New York Post
“Uses protests to sell you a soda.” New York Daily News
“Perhaps the most puzzling aspect is the choice of Jenner – a rich, white celebrity – as leading lady.” Salon
“The campaign is tone-deaf, almost surreal in its thoughtlessness, and perverse in its attempt to use the fear and suffering of Americans to sell soda.” Esquire
What Pepsi said
The fizzy drinks maker said it was “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding”.
The statement went on: “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout.”
[Source: the BBC]