Pepsi got into a crisis after releasing its latest ad campaign featuring the 21-year-old reality star/model Kendall Jenner. The message is that we should all unite and “join the conversation”, however, many people found the ad failed to deliver the message.
In the short film, Jenner was leaving a fashion photoshoot to join a protest. She simply handed a police officer a Pepsi and the crowd started clamping and cheering.
The content of the video was criticized by the internet for making protest like BlackLife Matters seem like an easy problem to solve-with a soda. Within 48 hours the video got around 1.6 million views on YouTube. People also vented their anger on Twitter and Facebook. They thought this was a tasteless action of the company.
The company took down the ad and apologized. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” Pepsi said in a statement.
Even as a person who’s never been to any protest, I felt uncomfortable while watching the Pepsi ad. I understand that the company is not intentionally trying to state a political message here as their only goal is increasing sales, however, I felt they failed to deliver the message (which is a good one) by using the wrong story telling.
First of all, I think they used the wrong person for the ad. It would make more sense if they feature everyday people or activists of certain movements to be the main character, Having a 21-year-old reality show star handing a soda to the cop does not seem like the best way to tell the story.
Second, most people got agitated because the ad made solving a protest too easy, which is disrespectful to people who contributed so much, even their lives to those protests. This is a serious matter so that it should be discussed in a serious way.
Heineken, a beer brand, showed us a perfect example of good story telling. The ad addressed several current heated topics such as climate change, transgender, and feminism. It seems impossible to touch upon these difficult subjects in a beer commercial, but Heineken did a great job delivering the message-united. It was a successful ad because it was honest, responsible and clear.