Just one day after releasing a new ad featuring Kendall Jenner, Pepsi pulled the commercial on Wednesday and issued an apology amid a backlash accusing the company of making light of issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," Pepsi said in a statement. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. 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 ad, officially titled "Live for Now Moments Anthem," was removed from the company's official YouTube channel, though it remains online via other accounts. Jenner has yet to respond to the controversy. Posts about the campaign were removed from both the social media feeds of Jenner and her mother Kris Jenner.
In the commercial, Jenner is shown participating in a photo shoot when a crowd of protesters marching for an unnamed cause passes by. They carry signs with vague statements such as "join the conversation," and all appear to be in a jovial mood. Jenner eventually descends from her shoot, tossing off her blond wig, to join the group after one marcher seems to encourage her with a nod, and then the model swiftly makes peace between police donning riot gear and marchers by handing a police officer a can of Pepsi. The video incited a major backlash from many who took to Twitter to rip the spot, labeling it as tone deaf, disrespectful, and tasteless.
Initially, however, Pepsi stood by the ad. "The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple story lines converge in the final advert," a Pepsi spokesperson told Teen Vogue. "It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to 'Live for Now,' in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered, and uninhibited."
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