Pepsi sparked what’s being called an “Internet revolt” with an ad released this week that features the company’s new spokesperson Kendall Jenner cutting short a photo shoot to join a protest march. The company first defended the ad, but after the blowback failed to subside, Pepsi today pulled the ad from circulation and apologized to Jenner.
People magazine notes that the commercial, which is titled “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” had many social media users up in arms, accusing Pepsi of crass appropriation of imagery from the Black Lives Matter protests, anti-Trump demonstrations and other movements.
Jenner, 21, is seen in the 2-1/2-minute spot doing a modeling shoot as a seemingly unrelated peace protest takes place nearby. Jenner breaks off from the shoot, discards her blond wig, joins the protesters, grabs a Pepsi and hands it to a police officer — who elicits a huge cheer from the crowd when he takes a drink.
The clip attracted more than a million views over the span of two days on YouTube, where thumbs-down clicks outnumbered thumbs-ups by more than 5-to-1.
Pepsi issued a statement earlier this week defending the clip, saying: “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
However, the ad disappeared from Pepsi’s YouTube account today. TMZ.com reports that Pepsi officially pulled the ad and issued a “special apology” to Jenner.
“The company was ducking for cover all morning, as people railed on the ad which made it look like Kendall Jenner could bring unity between cops and protests like the Black Lives Matter movement with a can of soda,” TMZ reports.
TMZ quotes a new statement from Pepsi that says: “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.”
The company’s statement adds: “We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”