Television spot shows protest, receives large public backlash
On April 4 Pepsi ignited anger with its new ad “Jump In,” featuring model and reality star Kendall Jenner portrayed as a hero during a mock protest. In the ad, Jenner joined activists and used a can of Pepsi to demonstrate an act of peace with a police officer.
Although many had their own thoughts on what the protest was about, the company was not clear on the focus of the protest, as their actors carried vague signs which read, “join the conversation” and “love.”
With America constantly battling race relations and politics, the company set out to create what seemed to be a politically correct ad thatgrabbed the attention of a younger audience. However, these efforts to win over the young demographic backfired quite quickly.
Lindsay Mihalko, sophomore accounting major explained how the ad had a negative impact on the media.
“It was really insensitive for the current social climate,” Mihalko said. “I was shocked someone actually thought it was a good idea.”
As the second model to ever receive the role of a spokesperson for Pepsi, Jenner expressed excitement for her debut. The ad shows Jenner as a model who becomes distracted by a group of protestors of various ethnicities many portrayed through cultural stereotypes and professional backgrounds. Eventually, Jenner leaves her photoshoot and joins the protest by offering a police officer a can of Pepsi.
“A lot of people thought the ad was about police brutality,” said Channon Young, junior business major. “I saw Pepsi attempting to speak on equality, which many other companies aren’t doing.”
The climax of the advertisement was when Jenner handed the police officer a can of Pepsi. The advertisment caught the attention of many because it resembled the award-winning photo of Ieshia Evans being arrested at a police brutality protest for Black Lives Matter in Baton Rouge, Lousiana.
This moment appeared to the public as an imitation of the photo, in which Evans remained still while being arrested. Despite the company attempting to possibly emulate this moment in activism, the imitated image was viewed by the public as Pepsi hinting the issues of America could be resolved with a can of soda.
The day after the release of the advertisement, the company removed the video from all of their social media and made a statement apologizing directly to Bernice King in response to publiccriticism over appropriating Dr. Martin Luther King’s actions during the Civil Rights Movement, along with many other recent protests for equality.
Pepsi’s public apology tried to quell the uproar by saying “they missed the mark.”
Since Pepsi’s public apology, there has been no further word from Pepsi or Jenner about the commercial or what it actually stood for.