In the ad, reality TV star Kendall Jenner leaves a photo shoot to join a protest. She walks to the police line and hands the officer a can of Pepsi, prompting a smile from the officer and cheers from the crowd.
Viewers have criticized Pepsi for trivializing serious issues and attempting to use them for commercial gain. Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter Bernice King was among those who responded to the advert, tweeting ‘If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi’ alongside a photo of her father at a police line.
The ad was launched on Tuesday, and initially defended by Pepsi. However, on Wednesday Pepsi said it was removing the ad and halting any further rollout.
In a statement, it said: "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."
“In the clip, Jenner leaves behind her modeling shoot and blond wig, breaking ranks on a vague protest march by handing a handsome white police officer a Pepsi and singlehandedly solving racially motivated police brutality, at least for the moment. It's the kind of milquetoast multiculturalism that only exists in ad-exec boardrooms.” – Rolling Stone.
“The message [of the ad] is clear: All those Women’s Marches, Black Lives Matter protests, and demonstrations outside Trump Tower would be much more effervescent—and effective!—if someone had just brought some soda.” – Wired.
“The campaign is tone-deaf, almost surreal in its thoughtlessness, and perverse in its attempt to use the fear and suffering of Americans to sell soda… You almost don't need to watch it—you can imagine it—but somehow it's even worse than you think it'll be.” - Esquire.