Kendall Jenner's Short-Lived Pepsi Ad Made Her a Savior We Never Needed

Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad fail
Kendall and Kylie/YouTube

Whether you turn off the TV at the sound of a protest happening or you are searching for your voice to help effect change and #StayWoke, there's a movement -- a movement of inclusion, equality, and accountability -- that's happening, one that you can no longer deny. And as beautiful as it is when people from all walks of life come together in the name of a common goal, it's a true misstep when a person, or, in this case, a well-known company uses its platform of influence in a tone-deaf way. No matter the good intention, Pepsi's ad described as a "Live for Now Moments Anthem" with Kendall Jenner missed the mark in so many ways, but ironically, it shows a problem in our society that needs addressing.


Titled "Jump In," this Pepsi short film, which the company has since pulled (but still remains on Kendall and Kylie's YouTube page), features a series of protesters marching in the street for various causes, with individuals taking up the call and joining the movement.

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... And then there's Kendall Jenner, who feels so inspired to join in toward the end of the ad that she does the unthinkable. Ripping off her blond wig and wiping off her lipstick, Jenner leaves her photo shoot to join the protesters, grabs a Pepsi, and strolls up to a line of poker-faced police officers. There, she gives a cop her drink -- which, of course, quenches his thirst and makes him smile -- before the crowd of protesters erupts in a cheer, seemingly celebrating their victory.

Crisis averted.  

Aside from having a Matt Damon saves the Chinese people in The Great Wall aura about it (#ThankYouMattDamon), the notion that someone can simply walk up to an officer during a protest, hand said officer a soda, and have that marketed peace offering be celebrated -- as if it's the solution to social change -- is not exactly how things work ... at all.

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Needless to say, folks had a few words about this Pepsi ad and took to social media to let their feelings be known.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad fail

Pepsi ad fail tweet

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Even Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had to chime in.

Bernice King tweet

However, the biggest blunder of this ad was what some considered to be Pepsi's appropriation of the photo of Ieshia Evans, a Black Lives Matter protester and mother being arrested by police during an Alton Sterling protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which speaks volumes about how careless this ad is.

Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad fail

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At first, Pepsi stood by its controversial ad, but it's since changed it's tune. "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize," Pepsi said 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."

I get that companies look for ways to maintain their relevance while trying to cater to demands and passions of their targeted demographic ... but whoever thought this ad was a good idea -- and signed off on it -- really needs to spend time with the very men and women they're trying to portray ... 'cause a can of soda ain't gonna do the trick.

While I do give Pepsi a gold star for the use of diversity among the protesters (y'all can argue amongst yourselves whether or not the checklist of token minorities was fulfilled), it could've done without Kendall's strutting in at the last minute like some savior who can get through to police with a Pepsi and a smile. For an ad that tries to be socially conscious, this short film is quite thoughtless and only reiterates common misconceptions and assumptions people removed from a movement have.

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Thinking about the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination (on the same day this ad was released), and the individuals and families who are fighting for change and rights across the country and afar, somehow, I feel this ad waters down the importance and urgency of life events and situations that are happening right now.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a pretty model and a Pepsi can help those still protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, or assist advocates who continue to demand clean water in Flint, Michigan, or single-handledly protect women's autonomy, or stand with activists who desire accountability and answers every time an unarmed person of color is shot by police -- and others who dearly cry out for acceptance and inclusion.

So, yeah, thank you, Pepsi, for showing us how to get involved and get sh*t done. We're sure all it takes is a carbonated drink in a can.

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