Pepsi has left many people with a bad taste in their mouths with the release of a new protest-themed commercial starring Kendall Jenner, which critics say is a tone-deaf attempt to co-opt a movement of political resistance.
Unveiled Tuesday, the advertisement is titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem” and set to the Skip Marley song “Lions.” It depicts Jenner posing for a photo shoot in a blond wig and silver dress while diverse crowds of young people march through nearby streets, carrying signs and raising their fists.
Dropping their business to join the protesters are a Pepsi-sipping musician, a headscarf-clad photographer, and finally Jenner herself, after removing her wig and smearing her lipstick. 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.
“Live bolder, live louder, live for now,” the ad concludes.
Responses to the campaign were swift and merciless on social media, with many detractors accusing Pepsi of blatantly appropriating the spirit and imagery of the anti-Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter, and other movements in order to sell soda.
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“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.”
A Pepsi spokesperson said in a statement to EW, “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.”
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.”