This article was originally published on: Myft
Original Article: Pepsi withdraws Kendall Jenner ad after social media backlash
Written by: Shannon Bond
Pepsi was the latest brand to wade into politically charged territory, as the fizzy drinks maker was forced to apologise for an advertisement that depicted Kendall Jenner, the reality television star and model, joining a protest and offering a can of Pepsi to a police officer.
The ad, which Pepsi posted on YouTube on Tuesday, quickly drew widespread condemnation on social media from critics who said it trivialised Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of black people. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue,” the company said. “We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.” The commercial, which Pepsi had described as “a short film about the moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back”, was derided for being tone-deaf to the serious nature of social justice protests.
The latest controversy comes as companies are under intense scrutiny over everything from what goes into their products and how they treat their employees to which TV programmes and websites receive their advertising dollars and what values they embrace in their marketing messages. Consumer goods makers in particular are walking a fine line between reaching a broad base of customers across an increasingly divided political spectrum and responding to calls from younger consumers to publicly embrace values of inclusion and diversity. “Great advertising is timely, relevant and at times, even provocative. But when your ad sparks mass protest and calls for boycotts, you’ve clearly missed the mark,” said Chris Allieri, founder of Mulberry & Astor, a marketing and branding consultancy. “In an effort to appear relevant to consumers, especially millennial consumers, they waded into a firestorm they could’ve avoided.” PepsiCo, whose brands also include Mountain Dew, Lay’s crisps and Quaker oatmeal, is one of the world’s biggest marketers, spending $2.5bn on advertising in 2016. Touching on political themes can be a risky move for brands trying to appeal to a national audience. Budweiser found itself drawn into a debate earlier this year when it debuted its latest Super Bowl ad, which depicted the immigrant experience of the beer maker’s founder. The ad came amid President Donald Trump’s clampdown on immigration, and while Budweiser said it did not intend to comment on current events, the commercial was interpreted by many viewers as a political statement. The fact that Pepsi posted and removed its latest ad from the internet in less than 24 hours highlights the speed at which companies are reacting to feedback from the public. Social media has given consumers and activists a platform to pressure corporations by publicly shaming and calling for boycotts of brands they see as supporting values different from their own. This has sparked campaigns such as #deleteUber, which led to the car hailing app’s chief executive stepping down from Mr Trump’s business advisory group, and a rightwing boycott of Kellogg’s after the cereal maker pulled its advertising from Breitbart, the far right news site.