Kendall Jenner depicting a protester with Pepsi in hand during a Pepsi commercial.

Screengrab via Pepsi Global/YouTube

Pepsi and Kendall Jenner co-opt Black Lives Matter in new commercial—and people are pissed

This is what happens when we call protesting the 'new brunch.'


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Apr 5, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 6:29 pm CDT


On Monday, Pepsi released a new commercial starring Kendall Jenner, in which the model breaks away from her photoshoot to join a crowd of protesters and induct an era of world peace by handing a police officer a soda. As you can guess, it didn’t take long for the campaign to receive considerable backlash.

Twitter quickly grew aflame, criticizing the company’s use of social movements and people of color for financial gain. In the spot, Pepsi has co-opted both the Black Lives Matter movement and the resistance brought on by President Donald Trump‘s 2016 election win to show how one white woman, Jenner, can solve it all.

In the most incriminating shot, critics noticed that Jenner appears to even mimic Ieshia Evans, who was iconically photographed standing still in front of rushing police officers who ultimately arrested her during a Black Lives Matter protest after the police shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge last year.

The ignorant nature of the commercial runs the full two and a half minutes, from the Asian cellist who gets Jenner to rip off her wig and hand it to her black hairstylist, to the use of Skip Marley’s song “Lions,” to the black male dancers who literally back her up in the last shot. It’s almost as if Pepsi tried to make this commercial as “diverse” as possible in order to justify Jenner’s leading role in this alternative universe where stopping police brutality is as simple as sharing a can of carbonated sugar water.

Kendall Jenner and protesters
Screengrab via Pepsi Global/YouTube

However, this ad campaign is the type we might expect to see when we normalize the phrase “protesting is the new brunch”—the ad even juxtaposes a pair of people sipping Pepsi at brunch against the protesters. Around the 30-second mark, Jenner looks like she catches a major bout of FOMO, but at about 1:30, when she sees the crowd approaching, things change—she is suddenly itching to make the movement about her. But not to worry, she finally gets her moment to shine when she wipes away her black lipstick with the back of her hands to cheer along with apolitical protesters.

AdWeek has compiled several responses from PepsiCo regarding the backlash, and the company doesn’t seem to be backing down from the spot anytime soon:

“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 ‘Jump In’ Pepsi Moments film takes a more progressive approach to truly reflect today’s generation and what living for now looks like,” the brand said in the earlier release, which did not mention President Trump, the resistance, Black Lives Matter or any other current movement that Pepsi could be trying to reflect in its ad, which it plans to use globally, via TV and digital.”

PepsiCo did not immediately return the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

Update 12:22pm CT, April 5: Pepsi has pulled the ad and apologized to Jenner. You can read the company’s statement below:

H/T Huffington Post

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*First Published: Apr 5, 2017, 10:16 am CDT