Ignorance in advertising
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April 26, 2017
Pepsi removes controversial commercial starring Kendall Jenner from the air following public backlash
Apparently, all you need to do is pop open a can of soda and the social injustice in the world will magically disappear. Or at least that’s what Pepsi thinks.
A little over a week ago, the soda beverage brand released a highly controversial television advertisement starring 21-year-old “Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s” star and fashion model, Kendall Jenner.
Jenner is shown walking among a group of protesters drinking copious amounts of Pepsi and holding up generic signs of “peace” and “love.” As the protesters run in with a handful of police officers, Jenner confidently struts to the front line, hands over an ice cold can of pop to the officer and, poof! The officer takes a swig of Pepsi and suddenly all is resolved, leaving the protesters to celebrate and cheer alongside Jenner.
Needless to say, NBC News reports the commercial lasted less than 24 hours before it was promptly pulled off the air due to an intense amount of public backlash.
Among the criticism, the strongest argument said Pepsi’s commerical strongly resembled the “Black Lives Matter” movement, an ongoing social controversy between African-Americans and police brutality. Many social media users took to their accounts and posted about their concern, explaining that the offensive ad was sending an ignorant message that a supermodel and a Pepsi can solve a nationwide issue in the blink of an eye.
Among these social media comments was one of Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter.
King sarcastically tweeted, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
Pepsi then released a statement via Twitter, saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. 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.”
This was when my anger elevated from moderate to furious. Here we have Pepsi, a trademark brand with a strong voice in popular culture, claiming they didn’t stop for two seconds to think their commercial might resemble one of the most controversial social injustice movements of the past year. Are you kidding me?
On top of this, after serious backlash and comments from African-Americans, including the daughter of one of the most successful and iconic civil rights leader this nation has known, Pepsi decides to direct their apology toward Jenner.
No apologies for the countless Americans who had to suffer and bravely fight for their rights, nothing for past civil rights leaders who sacrificed their lives for others’ equality and — that’s right — nada for citizens in a society that still must deal with this enduring injustice.
Pepsi should not be apologizing for Jenner. She is a grown woman who understands the power she holds in popular culture. She should have seriously thought this commercial offer through before deciding to be a part of it.
It is Jenner’s responsibility to use her own voice and craft an apology of her own to the millions of Americans and respected civil rights leaders who she has wrongly offended. She is not a child who made a simple mistake. Jenner is an adult who ignorantly signed on to a deal without considering the consequences.
Jenner has yet to release a statement following the commercial controversy, but one can only hope she chooses her words wisely.