The Kendall Jenner x Pepsi Ad Made Me Want To Vomit
Before you do anything else watch this if you haven’t seen it already:
Did you watch it? I hard a hard time making it through the entire spot myself without a few grimaces, “wtf were they thinking” faces and a “i can’t believe this shit” to a coworker.
Let’s look at a few scenes to examine why this isn’t just the worst ad of all time but an ad that is insensitive, offensive and completely thoughtless.
1.) Co-opting a movement
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These are all very nice sentiments and shit we should strive for every single day but they aren’t the typical signs you see at real protests. The protests where people are putting their safety in danger because they’re afraid they might walk outside with a hoody on and get shot, or that their family won’t be able to return to America if they board a plane to see their family in their native country are the images of protest people actually experience. The protestors certainly not as happy as the perfectly casted multi-racial group of actors walking down this very well lit street with no menacing or threatening police officers present any step of the way. Hell, they even found time to place pretty people to eat next to the protests while it was happening. The police aren’t in riot gear, apparently seeing no threat from this massive group of protesters singing and dancing their way towards them.
Now look, I work in advertising for big brands™. I know major corporations are risk averse and don’t want to alienate potential consumers who don’t share in what should be non-controversial views like equality and freedom of expression. But they are. But that’s why no one has ever asked a corporation to make a fucking resistance commercial. If you aren’t going to be on the ground with organizers and protesters, or helping to pay legal funds for those wrongly incarcerated or even at the very fucking least, providing food and beverages to people who are taking hours at a time out to speak out on something they believe in, then don’t use a movement for your own commercial gain.
2- Tropes, (Un)intentional Racism, More Tropes
All black people are good for in commercials are for hip hoppity dancing, tattoos, giving dap and staring lustfully at white women.
All the people of color in this ad are mostly used to check boxes provide accent color to what is an otherwise whitewashed scene.
This is an especially embarrassing lack of effort in representation when one considers the context in which the subjects are being portrayed.
3- Our White Savior
Ohhhh boy what in the actual fuck?!!?!
Another white woman swoops in to save the day. I wish Pepsi had Melania Trump’s number so that I can get past a few of the issues currently concerning me.
I would’ve had a problem with this closing scene if it was from just about anyone but we’ll get to the actual ending in a bit. The fact that it’s a fucking Kardashian Jenner – the physical embodiment of wealth, entitlement and privilege in America – shifts this ad from just terrible advertising toward the realm of parody, absurdity and offensiveness.
Do you remember the protests in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling was gunned down by police officers?
This is the lasting image of those protests. Ieshia Evans is walking up to a group of white police officers dressed like they’re ready to confront ground troops in Northern Iraq, and able at a moment’s notice to gun her down.
The ending of this thing is even more absurd. Once Jenner hands the very peaceful policeman the can of Pepsi, the crowd goes crazy, like they were all Tyrone Biggums and it was time for the free crack giveaway.
If I knew all I had to do to avoid being shot by the police while black was carry a Pepsi around with me, I would’ve been doing it this entire time.