Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner sparks outrage, criticized for appropriating Black Lives Matter movement

Published 05.04.2017 00:00
Updated 05.04.2017 20:43
emPepsi Max/ Splash News Photo/em
Pepsi Max/ Splash News Photo

Pepsi says it is pulling an ad that has been widely criticized for appearing to trivialize protests for social justice causes.

"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," the company said Monday in a news release. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize."

The "Live for Now Moments" ad relased on Tuesday shows Kendall Jenner, a member of the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" reality TV family, in a platinum wig on a photo shoot when protesters amble by. She then rips off her wig, smears away her lipstick and joins them, eventually handing an officer on the demonstration line a can of Pepsi. He gulps some down, and then grins as Jenner dances off with her new friends.

"We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position," PepsiCo Inc. said.

Model Kendall Jenner's turn as a Pepsi-wielding protester had social media decrying the imagery as appropriation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

the new @Pepsi ad evoking imagery of @IeshiaEvans in Baton Rouge is total exploitative brand social activism bs 👋🏼

Reaction on social media ranged from some saying the imagery was tone deaf, to it evoking a widely circulated photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans last year in Louisiana. Evans was detained when she approached police at a demonstration in Baton Rouge.

In a statement late Tuesday night, Pepsi defended 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," the statement said.

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