In the new ad, the 21-year-old model leaves her photo shoot behind to join a march before handing a police officer a can of soda, causing her fellow protesters to erupt in cheers as he takes a drink.
Responses to the commercial, titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem,” were swift and merciless on social media, with many detractors accusing Pepsi of blatantly appropriating the spirit and imagery of the anti-Donald Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter and other movements in order to sell their product.
Pepsi released a statement in response to the backfire.
“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,” they said in a statement.
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Earlier, the company said in a statement to Teen Vogue, “The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”
Social media users expressed their distaste for the commercial.
“Shame on you @pepsi for such a tasteless ad,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another said, “The worst thing about that Pepsi ad, beyond the blatant disrespect and disregard, is the amount of people who greenlit that advertisement.”