Was the Pepsi Commercial Really that Controversial?

by Kimberly Pena

Pepsi and Kendall Jenner have been under attack after the release of a new commercial which some viewers felt was a mockery of the marches and protests happening around the country, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.

The roughly two-and-a-half minute commercial begins with Jenner doing a photo shoot while a protest is occurring in the street next to her. As the commercial progresses, Jenner decides to ditch the photo shoot and join the march. She then approaches a police officer and hands him a Pepsi drink and everyone ends up cheering and applauding.

Activist DeRay McKesson tweeted out, “If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would’ve gotten arrested. Who knew?” Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., also tweeted “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”

Due to the negative backlash, Pepsi has retracted the commercial and issued an apology. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said last Wednesday in a statement. “Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

Although it is clear why the commercial has been viewed as offensive and insensitive, it seems very unlikely that was the message Pepsi was trying to market. The video demonstrated human beings from all different backgrounds coming together for one common cause; harmony.

The handing off of the Pepsi drink to the officer and the cheering on afterwards was also controversial, but the way I saw it, it was an opportunity for Pepsi to advertise their drink and use it as a moment to symbolize peace — not that a Pepsi can solve everyone’s problems as some people are trying to put it.

However, it must be noted that people do come from different backgrounds and perceive things in different ways, so all views should be respected, especially to those who may have been offended.

Although seen as controversial by some, it should be noted that the ad did continue the ongoing conversation of the social injustices and movements going on around the country today. It did unite the internet and in a way made everyone speak about Pepsi; just maybe not the way that the company had hoped for.

If there should be any positive takeaway from the approximately three-minute video, people from different ethnic, cultural, religious or whatever backgrounds can come together and fight for whatever they may believe in, even if it means to come together against a Pepsi commercial.

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