Pepsi has been doing quite a bit of damage control since its controversial, protest-themed ad starring Kendall Jenner drew the ire of the Twittersphere. And experts say the headline-making spot likely cost the company a pretty penny.
In the commercial, the 21-year-old model played a demonstrator who hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer. The company decided to pull the ad following intense backlash and accusations of appropriating civil rights and protest movements to sell soda.
The decision to pull the commercial was likely not an easy one to make, as one industry executive tells PEOPLE that production costs for the Bangkok-filmed ad were well into the millions.
“At least $2 million, but probably more like $5 million, including Kendall’s fee,” the official says, adding the the media buy would be “roughly $100 million for a campaign like this.” A longtime production coordinator notes: “Kendall was likely paid a one-time fee for the ad. I’d guess anywhere from $400,000-$1 million.”
In the advertisement, titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem,” Jenner ditches a photo shoot to join protesters in the street. The ad culminates with Jenner handing a Pepsi can to a police officer, who pops the top, takes a swig, and is met with inexplicable roars of approval from the marchers.
Pepsi has apologized for the ad that many have called “tone deaf,” and even offered an apology to the model. However, many have criticized the move, noting that Jenner was a willing participant in the commercial.
Now, with the ad taken down, an advertising executive says networks that initially planned to run the commercial will have to look elsewhere to fill the spot.
“They would have had to fill that inventory with other brands, had their agency fill it with other brands, or begged for options,” the expert says. “Depending on the sold-out rate and relationship with the networks, it could be either no cost or very expensive.”
However, the source adds: “Given that we are in upfronts right now, people are likely to do favors.”