A Mistaken Message

April 19, 2017

Advertisements are everywhere. Companies turn to ads to promote and draw attention to their products in order to make a profit. One popular food and beverage company, PepsiCo, recently released an ad that publicized one of their most popular drinks, Pepsi-Cola. However, this ad drew a different kind of attention that left many in a state of shock.

This ad, deemed controversial, features a group of young people protesting in the streets. The group smiles, claps, and high-fives one another as they hold signs that bear messages such as “Join the conversation.” Kendall Jenner, a model and reality T.V. star, also makes an appearance in the ad. After receiving encouragement to join the protest, she ditches a photoshoot and joins the crowd. At the climax of the promotion, Jenner approaches a line of police officers and offers one of the men a Pepsi. After the officer accepts with an appreciative grin, the crowd erupts in approbation. Pepsi has received a substantial amount of criticism for this two-and-a-half minute ad and quickly removed it. Along with the removal of the ad, Pepsi released a formal apology stating that the this was not message they were trying to convey, “Pepsi was trying to project the global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”


Many connect the attempt to sell a soft drink to the black anti-police-violence protesters and Vietnam War protesters. The clip where Jenner keeps the peace by offering the bystanding officer a Pepsi seems to bear the brunt of the backlash. Some hold the belief that Pepsi devalued important issues and that the ad needed to be removed; however, there are also those who think the ad was taken in the wrong way and should not have been as controversial as it was.

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