The Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner is just another thing that has gotten social media riled up recently.
The commercial has been accused of trivializing social movements by having Jenner end a protest by handing a police officer a Pepsi. While I agree that the commercial does oversimplify the historically complex and sensitive matter of social movements, I think that there are other issues with the commercial that are worth noting.
The biggest issue is the face of the commercial. Jenner may have graced the runways during Fashion Week and have appeared on the front pages of magazines, but she hasn’t been a vocal advocate for anything. Ever. She hasn’t advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women, the Black Lives Matter movement or any other social movement. With that said, why was she the face of the commercial — of all people?
Obviously, Pepsi wants to use someone well-known and popular in their advertisements. However, given that the commercial was based on making a difference through protests, there are much better candidates. Angelina Jolie, Chrissy Teigen, Jesse Williams, Cher, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and many other celebrities have all voiced their concerns on various issues, some of whom actually attended a protest like the Women’s March. The concept of the commercial being that a can of Pepsi can end all prejudices and tensions was enough to offend some people. Having Jenner as the person in the commercial ending it all just adds fuel to the fire. The humorous and sarcastic memes of Civil Rights protesters asking Jenner for a can of Pepsi to calm down violent police officers actually had an underlying message to them. They’re saying that it’s a slap in the face to actual advocates for these social movements, many of which have fallen victim to unnecessary violence when confronting police at protests.
Many people argue that people are being too sensitive about the commercial and that they blew it out of proportion.
That’s not the case. When you start to consider actual protesters whose experiences with confronting policemen have ended violently, you should understand.
If you think about the numerous unarmed black men who have been shot because an item in their hand was confused with a weapon and think of one being shot because he approached an officer with a Pepsi that’s “mistaken” for a gun, then it will make sense.
If you think of all of the marginalized groups fighting to be treated equally being represented in a commercial where a pretty model handing a can of soda to an officer solves everything, the outrage should register with you.
Unsurprisingly and rightfully, the advertisment has been pulled. Hopefully next time the people who run Pepsi’s advertising will be more considerate of the brand’s commercial content. Hopefully (but not plausibly), some of our issues could be solved with something as simple as a can of soda.