A few weeks ago, Pepsi released an advertisement video promoting their product with model and reality star, Kendall Jenner. In light of this video, the company faced severe backlash and criticism due to the fact that the content of this video trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement.
The advertisement begins with Jenner in the middle of a photoshoot when she notices protesters marching down the street. The topic of the protest isn’t clear, but the protesters are carrying signs with nonspecific pleas such as “Join the conversation.” In the climax of the video, Jenner is seen handing a police officer a can of Pepsi to which the officer smiles and the crowd cheers.
The ad was quickly accused of appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement and implying that this huge problem that is currently, and has been, going on can be easily fixed with a can of fizzy soda. This is entirely the opposite of the real-world experience of police brutality. The ad minimizes the dangers that protestors can encounter and the emotions they feel.
“This ad trivializes the urgency of the issues and it diminishes the seriousness and the gravity of why we got into the street in the first place,” says activist DeRay McKesson.
McKesson, who organized and protested in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown, also takes issue with the brand’s apology.
“Pepsi didn’t apologize to all of the people who have been protesting for two years, didn’t apologize to the people who dedicated their lives and their time to these issues and to understand the urgency of them because in so many cases, there’s so much at stake including people’s lives,” he said.
The fight for Black Americans has been going on for hundreds of years, and Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was one of many who connected the video to past protests. Bernice tweeted out, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
Although Pepsi has removed it’s video and released an apology, many are still angered by this event, and it sheds some light on the ignorance that surrounds this topic. Hopefully many people are able to educate themselves and realize the difficulty protesters are facing everyday just to receive equality.