Kendall Jenner’s most recent ad with Pepsi has caused controversy around the United States and the world. The ad depicts Jenner walking out of the middle of a photo shoot to go join a march in the street with many of her peers. Jenner joins the march and then hands a Pepsi to one of the police officers controlling the march and he smiles at her. This creates the depiction that because Jenner handed the police officer a Pepsi that the whole march was a success. After she hands the police officer the drink the entire crowd begins cheering and everyone becomes unified as one.
This ad has been met with backlash for a number of reasons. Many feel that the ad is making light of the social movements that have been happening all around the country including the Black Lives Matter Movement. In real life, these marches are no where near as peaceful as the one being depicted through this ad. The marches are usually filled with violence and police opposition, two problems that would not be solved through just handing someone a Pepsi. For this reason, many felt that this ad was in bad taste.
Once met with backlash, Pepsi immediately stopped playing the ad and admitted that they may have missed the mark with the message they were trying to portray. If the ad had maybe used an actress of color to get their message across, the ad might have been met with a different reaction, but because Kendall Jenner was used as the spokesperson many felt that she did not identify on a personal level with the issue at hand.
This is a classic case of when ads are not fully thought through. In my opinion, much more thought and care should have been put in by the advertising team before the ad was actually run on national television. How was this ad able to get through so many different members of the team without anyone saying that maybe the did miss the mark and that some things need to be changed? This is also not the first time that Pepsi’s ads have been met with criticism.
With all of the issues going on in today’s societies, it is big brands such as Pepsi’s responsibility to positively contribute to these social movements. By making light of marches that are happening all around the country, Pepsi did not positively contribute at all. Because of this they are facing backlash. It is important for advertising professionals to consider all groups of society before bringing an idea to light. If this practice were followed more heavily then the number of controversial advertisement’s in today’s media would greatly decrease. This would be a positive change that we could all benefit from.
As society shifts and becomes more accepting of all social groups, advertising needs to follow suit. This means making sure that ads being shown in the media are accepting of all these different kinds of people. Through these changes, advertising will be able to play a part in a positive change in society.
To view the full ad, please click here.