Pepsi. *The deepest of sighs*
Ok, from the beginning. Pepsi aired a new spot, starring Kendall Jenner. Sounds pretty typical right? We open with two artists working towards their varied passions, a racially ambiguous cellist and a young photographer (who is sporting a hijab, nose ring and flawless eyebrows) Obvs, while also enjoying a refreshing Pepsi. At the same time, a protest/march/music festival-type(?) gathering is happening right outside their doors. We don't know why throngs of good-looking 'Millennials' are taking to the streets, but there they are. Our artists join in.
We then see Kendall Jenner working her magic in front of the camera. Slightly distracted by the crowd, she attempts to continue. Then, a stroke of inspiration. She needs to be among the people! Off goes the wig, smear goes the lipstick and our fresh-faced supermodel joins the crowd. After looking around, she grabs a Pepsi (fist bumps a black man) and heads to the front lines. Why? To give a cool drink to one of the officers standing defensively opposite of the crowd, duh. #woke
As someone who loves marketing, I get what Pepsi was trying to accomplish. Really. Pepsi is a brand that can be seen as 'something for everyone'. Everyone can enjoy a Pepsi no matter your race, creed, culture, sexual orientation, religion, etc. A common thread among diverse people. "Let's show that with this new spot.“
Protests are a means for people to get out and 'do something'. People have sacrificed life and freedom to be a part of a movement that was disruptive to the status-quo, for the betterment of marginalized and oppressed groups. Attempting to leverage people's call for real change to sell a product was extremely tone deaf. I'm not going to act as though Pepsi was intentionally trying to trivialize protests of late (Black Lives Matter, The Women's March) or all of them historically. I'm not that cynical. But, I 100% see why people were upset. I'll admit, I didn't understand why people were upset until the 2-minute mark. I was truly enjoying the representation of many peoples, portrayed wonderfully, no stereotypes or anything. *2-minutes in* "Oh. This was bad."
Drink a Pepsi, it'll make your protesting bearable...maybe even a fun time (no matter the impetus).
A pretty face and tasty beverage does not a savior make. You know what I'm saying? I do feel a little bad for Kendall though. She was thrown in the middle of this, just trying to work and maybe be a part of something meaningful (without actually being involved with anything meaningful). But Pepsi, I'm so disappointed in you. Who, within your in-house creative department (Creators League Studios) was the final say? You 'march' yourself right back to that drawing board. You needed to find the unifying thread that A) wasn't your product and B) didn't trivialize movements of minorities/marginalized/oppressed people as borderline chaotic and simultaneously, cheesily peaceful. You failed. Hard. Maybe NOW you see why disbanding the PepsiCo Multicultural Advisory Board was a bad idea.
Do better next time.