Models are getting brand deals left and right: Bella Hadid is the face of Dior, Gigi Hadid of Tommy Hilfiger and Hailey Baldwin of Guess. However, Kendall Jenner’s recent brand deal with Pepsi wasn’t as successful as she may have hoped. The entire campaign has blown up in her face and ended up on the cover of every newspaper and online website – for the wrong reasons – as Pepsi was forced to withdraw the campaign after the harsh backlash from the internet.
The 2-minute-39-second “short film” starts off with showing load of people in the midst of a protest, as well as capturing an artist, a photographer and friends having lunch, all holding a Pepsi in their hands. The clip then goes on to show Kendall Jenner on the set of a photo shoot as the protest walks by the set. Seeing the protest she decides to bunk her modelling job; taking off her wig and switching outfits into a cute denim ensemble, to join the protest. After sharing some knowing nods and fist bumps with her fellow protesters, Jenner manages to solve every problem simply by handing a Pepsi to a policeman. See, this is where the backlash commenced, the message behind the campaign was let’s say a little… fuzzy. Is Pepsi claiming that all those Black Lives Matter protests, Women’s Marches and demonstrations outside Trump Tower would have been a whole lot more successful if someone would have bought a dang Pepsi?
It’s no secret that the internet is very opinionated so it wasn’t a surprise that the internet strongly disagreed with the campaign. Within just 48 hours of the video being released it reached nearly 1.6 million views on YouTube and, as expected, Twitter and Instagram blew up with people pointing out just how ignorant the whole thing was. In a time of memes, people of course made memes including one which shows a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. being arrested with the quote “Damn. I forgot my Pepsi at home”. Yeah. Among those mocking the advert was Bernice King, who tweeted a photo of her father, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., being confronted by a police officer at a protest march. “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi,” she tweeted, gaining almost 300K likes!
As well as the complete mockery and backlash that the campaign received on twitter and other social medias, the campaign also got a parody on SNL in which they imagine what went on behind-the-scenes of the advert. Beck Bennett – playing the writer/director – shares the concept idea with his friends and family… only to have the premise completely shot down time and time again. “It’s a homage to the resistance,” he repeats on the phone. “It’s reminiscent of Black Lives Matter and everybody’s marching and it looks like there’s going to be a stand-off. And then Kendall Jenner walks up to one of the police officers and she hands him a Pepsi and then that Pepsi brings everyone together. Isn’t that like the best ad ever?”
The company ended up pulling the ad saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologise, we did not intend to make light of any serious issue”.
I think for once the entire internet agreed on the fact that Pepsi made a big mistake in this campaign! Beside the backlash the campaign gained, there is also now talk that the company didn’t ask permission to use the San Francisco Police Department’s logo and so now the word on the street is that the police department is threatening to sue.
Seriously Pepsi, all you’re supposed to be is a refreshing drink!
Words by Maija Lily