Pepsi just debuted a controversial new ad in which Kendall Jenner ditches a photo shoot to join a cute boy at a protest — and give a police officer a soda.
In the commercial, Jenner rips off a blonde wig to join a multi-cultural group of young people holding “protest” signs with feel-good terms like “join the conversation” and “love.”
Walking through the group, she grabs a Pepsi and hands it to a stone-faced police officer watching the protest. His face breaks into a smile, and the crowd breaks into cheers. “Live bolder. Live louder. Live for now,” the screen reads.
The commercial immediately rubbed many people the wrong way, with critics saying that Pepsi co-opted protests as a fun, trendy activity, instead of something people participate in to draw attention to social and political issues that, for some, are matters of live-or-death importance.
Many took to social media to express their concerns:
In “Elle,” Jaya Saxena notes that the commercial seems to draw from a photo of a black woman being arrested at a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest.
“This scene, which invokes a now iconic photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans being arrested in front of police line in Baton Rouge — but instead places a white, rich, supermodel in the focus, feels particularly egregious,” Saxena writes. “It’s as if someone saw that photo, immediately forgot about it, and then recalled something in a dream about a woman standing in front of the cops with no political implications.”
At least Kendall’s mother is proud of her.
Pepsi did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but said in a statement earlier today that the new campaign is intended to take a “progressive approach to truly reflect today’s generation and what living for now looks like.”
Here’s the full commercial:
I’m actually disgusted right now. What kind of privilege must you have to think handing a Pepsi over is something groundbreaking?
— blair waldorf. ???? (@wydaubri) April 4, 2017
So all us dark people have to do is convince a cop that the Pepsi we’re holding isn’t a gun.
— Kashana (@kashanacauley) April 4, 2017
Pepsi just made the commercial of the year for Coke.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) April 4, 2017
EVERYONE: well at least 2017 can’t possibly get any more tone-deaf
So proud of you @kendalljenner! Thank you @pepsi for choosing Kendall to be the face of your new campaign! #Pepsi #PepsiMoment #LiveforNow pic.twitter.com/YsAa9cBG2O
— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) April 4, 2017
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