It is arguably the worst ad ever made, or at least the most tone deaf. Created by PepsiCo’s in-house content creation arm, Creators League Studio, the now-infamous ad stars one of those Kardashian kids, Kendall Jenner, in a confusing montage of images that seemingly makes light of protest movements including Black Lives Matter.
The cacophony of images that begin with a cellist on a rooftop that leads to smiling protesters without a real agenda before winding everything down with Jenner handing a Pepsi can to a police officer has gotten tons of reactions on social media. So bad were the reactions to the ad that Pepsi eventually had to pull it out.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize,” the brand said in a statement. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
The backlash from the internet was loud, immediate, and near-unanimous in condemning the ad. It has even been labeled in some circles as “Beautiful people matter” as a spinoff of the very serious “Black lives matter.”
When compared to a classic Coca-Cola ad, namely ‘Hilltop’ from 1971, this Pepsi ad comes across as fake, completely out-of-touch, pretentious, and outright ignorant of the seriousness of the protests that it seemingly makes fun of.
Credits on the Kendall Jenner ad include Pete Kasko as creative director, Michael Bernard as director, and film production by Picture Farm. Creators League Studio is overseen by Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group; and Kristin Patrick, senior VP-global brand development. Mr. Jakeman had praised the ad on Twitter on Tuesday morning shortly after it was released, saying he was “super proud of the @PepsiCo #CreatorsLeague for producing this,” but the tweet has since been deleted.