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.
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.
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?