Pepsi and Their Recent Advert: Here’s the Problem

pepsi, pepsi advert, pepsi global campaign 2017, pepsi campaign 2017, kendall jenner and pepsi

Happy Humpday everyone! Is it alright if I veer off from my usual topics for a quick second?

Imagine, a time where a wealthy, famous celebrity who has never met you, doesn’t know you or hasn’t lived anything remotely resembling your life (and you hers) represents YOU. According to Pepsi, Kendall Jenner is the perfect person to represent young America today. Never-mind that she’s rich (scrap that, wealthy), famous, travels the globe on private jets and walks fashion runways several times a day. Yeah, yeah, we do those things everyday too. Yawn.

Pepsi: “But What’s Wrong?!!”

Pepsi took real life, ongoing issues in America, and put in the midst of those issues, Kendall Jenner. They gave her the role of hero, and ‘change-maker’. I get it, sort of. The executives must’ve thought “This is who they’re (Gen-Z and ‘millennials’, you know, the cool kids) looking at, so maybe if we use her, they’ll look at us!” “They like her, so maybe they’ll like us too!”  This tactic is as old as time. Did it work though? Hardly.

Pepsi advertisement with Kendall Jenner
One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong

What They Could’ve Done

What no one told the creative eyes behind the ‘story’ was that a small segment of the ‘cool kids’ looks at the Jenners and Kardashians, but what do they really look at them for? You guessed it, the makeup (lip kits and the like), the clothes, the aspirational lifestyle they present to the world on Snapchat and the ‘gram.

What the ‘cool kids’ don’t look at the Jenner/Kardashian clan for, then? Protests, speaking out on social issues such as police brutality, civil unrest and youth unemployment. Why? Because we’re not dumb. We understand exactly how far-removed the rich and famous are from, well, the real world. Because the world they exist in isn’t the world the rest of us face when we walk out the door each morning. Remember the clip of them texting during the 2014 MTV VMA’s moment of silence held to acknowledge the events in Ferguson, Missouri? Like I said, far-removed.

Instead, Pepsi could have used more relatable people (shocker, I know!) to convey the same message. They chose not to though, and went way out of the ballpark. The clip conveyed a message alright, and it was essentially that Pepsi just…doesn’t…get it.

pepsi ad, problem, pepsi advert
Credits: @leoloveiga on Twitter

A Closer Look at Celebrity Advertising & Product Placement

Celebrities have the opportunity to use their voices to speak on issues, and with larger platforms than most. Some include Jesse Williams, Rashida Jones, Ellen Pompeo and Emma Watson.

But putting a celebrity who has not only never spoken about anything, or showed concern (rather, actually reported in moments of showing a lack of concern, re: the VMAs) in the middle of a scene where she’s still not speaking? The second most prominent ‘character’ being Pepsi cans and bottles? Well, that’s just a ‘no’ all around.

There are some places where a product just does not belong. There are some places where (willingly) out-of-touch people don’t belong. Products and out-of-touch people in the middle of such social issues just trivializes the realities of the people actually affected by the issues on a daily basis. The brand’s intent might even be to identify with those affected, but in this case, all it really does is further silence them.

Pepsi, wanna try this again, or nah?

Written by

26 year-old writer, unabashed bookworm and coffee addict.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Could not agree more! I watched this and my heart fucking sank 🙁

  • Corey

    I notice the outrage over this ad and rightly so.

    One of my FB friends asked in frustration how could they be so insensitive and will they ever stop.

    Let’s be clear about something.

    “They” are not, nor are “they” ever going to stop. There is no reason for them to stop and in fact there are many reasons why they will most likely intensify. What I see this through this ad is a familiar theme written about brilliantly in Marilyn French’s book “Beyond Power” and vocalised even better by Sunity Maharaj, in this presentation

    I don’t think we fully appreciate how deeply traumatising it is for the Establishment to witness the events of the past 40-odd years and the first slow but now seemingly rapid reversal of old white masculine power structural models. The events of the 1960s with student radicalism and all the various movements that emerged must never, *ever* be allowed to happen again. The election of Trump has emboldened a lot of racist and imperialist persons of influence who see the signs when poor and middle income whites connect with persons of colour who in turn are linked to radical movements all over the globe. So they do what they’ve always done, legislate to make counter-cultural movements and protests difficult or illegal while at the same time co-opting selected elements of that counter-culture in order to blunt and dilute.

    So we need to be as vociferous as possible and engage in radical actions; appeals to conscience makes no sense to me. I am long past the stage of trying too hard to be explaining and justifying. It’s up to people like us to do whatever we can to keep the radical edge sharp and connect with like-minded people.

  • I definitely have to agree with this article. I admire celebrities like Emma Watson who are actually trying to make best of the world and change things. Rather than just go around thinking/saying: “Look at how pretty I am!” Eurgh… so bored with that! And no, Kendall Jenner – you have not made me want to buy a Pepsi! 😉

  • Bad, bad advertising! They should have known better. Who can really connect with the Kardashians / Jenners??

  • Interesting take on this. It’s certainly getting a lot of buzz. I agree with that they did the commercial poorly.
    I don’t look to Kendall for what she drinks.

  • Mla

    I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes companies need to take a step back, include those they want to represent, and make an effort to reach out to communities who are underrepresented – not guess what they want. I love what you said here. Absolutely spot on.

    • Talisa

      Thanks Mia!! I agree with you, too much guess-work.

  • I am not sure who was in charge of that advert but they too are far removed from reality!

    • Talisa

      Totally removed! And underestimating the public.

  • You said it best, “But putting a celebrity who has not only never spoken about anything, or showed concern (rather, actually reported in moments of showing a lack of concern, re: the VMAs) in the middle of a scene where she’s still not speaking?” And then they apologized to her. SMH so backwards. Great post!

    Leslie / @hautemommie /

    • Talisa

      Thank you Leslie! It was just a mess wasn’t it?

  • Yup!!! Yea Pepsi took a big L today smh

  • Well said, Talisa. I’m sure they realized their mistake already 🙁

  • Great post. I love Pepsi products and was so disturbed by this commercial. Glad they pulled it, but they still get the side eye.

    • Talisa

      #TeamCoke over here. 😁 Yes this was an absolute fail.

  • Queen

    You said this perfectly! It is so! Done. Queen

  • I couldn’t have said it better, she is definitely not a representation of the political landscape of our country.