Pepsi Defends Kendall Jenner as Backlash Erupts Over Their Latest Commercial

Kendall Jenner and Pepsi faced severe social media scrutiny on Tuesday (Apr. 4, 2017) after the brand’ s latest commercial fell flat in its attempt to inspire social advocacy.

In the commercial, Jenner is modeling in a photo shoot while a peaceful protest is passing by. She is inspired by a young man to abandon her blonde wig and her gig to join the cause. The protestors approach a line of police officers, who are standing in a straight line at the end of the street. Jenner emerges from the crowd and offers one of the officers a can of Pepsi. The officer takes a sip of the soft drink and the crowd breaks out into a fit of joyful cheering.

Audiences criticized Pepsi and the commercial for appropriating a racial protest movement to sell soda and for inappropriately referencing the powerful image of Ieshia Evans (below) that stemmed from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Pepsi released a statement in response to the criticism surrounding the ad.

“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,” said the brand.

Earlier, the company said in a statement to Teen Vogue, “The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”