By Danielle Lapierre
Kendall Jenner and Pepsi joined forces for a new advertisement, which was supposed to depict a peaceful protest that Jenner eventually participates in. Many groups, including Sacred Heart University students, are seeing the advertisement as controversial.
In the commercial, which was originally posted on the Pepsi YouTube channel before being deleted, Jenner is originally being shown participating in a photo shoot and noticing a passing protest. The protesters were holding signs bearing phrases such as “peace” and “join the conversation.” Jenner then abandons her photo shoot and joins the protest.
In the final scene, when the protesters come across a barricade of police officers, Jenner offers one a Pepsi, and both groups celebrate, indicating the issue they were fighting about has been resolved.
In a statement given to The New York Times, Elle Hearns, a former organizer for Black Lives Matter, said that the commercial “plays down the sacrifices people have historically taken in utilizing protests. No one is finding joy from Pepsi in a protest,” said Hearns. “That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action.”
With the issues of police brutality and protesting, many saw this commercial as portraying this issues as simpler than they are.
“These issues are much more complicated and take a lot more than a supermodel handing over a Pepsi to be solved,” said sophomore Chrissie Wojciechowski. “I think Pepsi did the right thing in removing their ad. We should be discussing these issues and coming up with realistic ways to solve them.”
Though there have been many serious reactions to the Pepsi controversy, many have also been taking it and creating parodies and using humor to make light of the situation.
Late night hosts all took to their shows and later posted videos on their YouTube channels spoofing and making fun of Jenner and Pepsi. Some of the hosts included Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers.
Seth Meyers’s spoof included an alternate ending of the commercial which involved an African-American woman handing a Pepsi to an officer, and then having back up promptly called on her.
“I think Pepsi was just trying to get involved in the conversation and tried to send a social message but did it in the completely wrong way,” said senior Kyle Brady. “There were way better ways to do that than by undermining an entire movement that has been taking place in our country for a few years now.”
Amid the controversy, Pepsi has since pulled the advertisement from their YouTube channel, but not before multiple other accounts posted it on their personal channels, making it still viewable. A repost of the commercial on one account still has more than nine million views, with the number still rising every day.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” Pepsi said in a press release that was later reported by NBC News. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
Jenner has been quiet regarding the incident with no statement released by her public relations team regarding either an apology or an acceptance of Pepsi’s apology to her.
“Regardless of anything, I hope other companies use what happened to Pepsi as a lesson,” said junior Kevin Dunn. “Don’t use social issues in order to sell a product, 99 percent of the time, it won’t end well.”