An advertisement showing Kendall Jenner using a can of Pepsi to calm tensions between activists and police is facing a backlash. The two-and-a-half minute Pepsi advert, which features the song Lions by Bob Marley’s grandson Skip, is set at a rally, with people carrying signs saying “peace” and “join the conversation”. The ad has been criticised for seemingly co-opting the resistance movement while framing a privileged, white 21-year-old supermodel with a can of soda as a peacemaker between civil rights activists and police.
This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.
Pepsi said in a statement
Critics on social media accused Pepsi of using protest movements such as BlackLivesMatter and opposition to Donald Trump to sell drinks with some saying the imagery was tone deaf, evoking a widely circulated photo of Black Lives Matter protester Leshia Evans last year in Louisiana. Evans was detained when she approached police at a demonstration in Baton Rouge. It’s not the first time that a sugary drink brand has tried to capitalize on a message of peace and love at a time of protest. Coca-Cola’s 1971 “Hilltop” ad, made during the Vietnam War and immortalized in the Mad Men finale, pitched Coke as some kind of grand unifying beverage.