In what may amount to a shrewdly-calculated marketing strategy, Pepsi has formally apologized for a new ad featuring Kendall Jenner joining a political protest, wherein she basically solves any percolating strife between the police state and racial justice with a single, fizzy can.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
In the two-minute video released on YouTube, Jenner abandons a modeling shoot in favor of a spirited gathering of multi-talented millennials marching for… something. Whatever their cause is, it looks an awful lot like recent Black Lives Matter protests. The ad concludes with Jenner “bravely” approaching a line of ruggedly charming cops and making a peace offering in the form of a nicely chilled can of Pepsi.
Because when can’t carbonated sugar water bridge the yawning chasm of a deeply divided nation?
The ad was swiftly eviscerated by the razor-sharp talons of the Internet, and perhaps with some justification. While not overtly racist, it no doubt intended to exploit our current political atmosphere in a very tame and generic way, which is offensive to anyone who’s put their lives on the line to actually change our society for the better.
After all, anyone who’s been to a real political demonstration knows that while some resemble a Dave Matthews concert, many others can be a brutal power struggle in which laws – and bones – are broken in the name of freedom.
But what critics of this painfully pandering ad fail to acknowledge – at least without some form of rancor – is just how effective it really is. Case in point: YOU are reading this. People are talking about Pepsi for the first time since Cindy Crawford guzzled the stuff in a white tank top to cool off (the year was 1992, the place was my heart). You may have actually tweeted/shared something related to Pepsi today for what we’re sure is the first time ever.
As of this writing, the Jenner video has 1,034,553 views and counting on YouTube, despite the fact that Pepsi has subsequently taken it down from their official channel. That’s over a million views in just under 24 hours!
Mind you, 27,823 people gave it a thumbs-down, while only 4,364 approved. But think about that: 32,187+ PEOPLE REACTED TO THIS AD. They actually took the time to vote for or against it, unwittingly contributing to the kind of free press that any brand secretly covets – however notorious it may be.
For the record, we here at Giant Propeller in no way condone Pepsi’s crass appropriation of a genuine and important social movement. To be perfectly candid, we’re using our communal office shower in shifts to wash away the tackiness and disgust.
There’s no denying that this video achieved apex impact in a whiplash-inducing amount of time. The true art of advertising is not how many billboards or banner ads a product can occupy, but rather, how many hearts and minds it can dominate.
Today, whether we like it or not, #PepsiLivesMatter.