Pepsi and Kendall Jenner managed to create an ad so offensive and so capitalistic that I can only imagine the company’s executives were trying to troll us.
What in the name of tone-deaf living hell was Pepsi thinking when they produced their latest advertisement featuring the whitest member (fight me, but you know I’m right) of the Kardashian clan, Kendall Jenner?
My eyes almost got stuck behind my eye sockets because they rolled so hard. Pepsi managed to create an ad so offensive and so capitalistic that I can only imagine the company’s executives were trying to troll us.
My guess is that their brainstorm meetings looked something like this:
Pepsi executive: Hey, everyone, what’s hip right now?
23 year old overpaid white man: Aw, man, like, the Kardashians, right? Like the model one.
Pepsi executive: Yes, good thinking, Jeremy, but what current event can we tie it to?
23 year old overpaid Jeremy: Well, like, people are mad about stuff a lot these days and they keep, like, having protests and stuff.
Pepsi executive: BRILLIANT, Jeremy, brilliant. Yes, let’s commodify the resistance’s reaction to oppressive forces to make money. Suck it, Coca-Cola!
There are multiple problematic things happening with the entire ad. The one that hit me the strongest was how off-base their portrayal of protest was. When black folks protest for our lives, our children, our rights, the police show up in riot gear with pepper spray, rubber bullets and a brutal energy.
Pepsi chose to depict protest as being a version of Coachella with cops wearing simple patrol gear. The folks at the Pepsi march are wearing carefully coordinated outfits within the Pepsi color palette, everyone is smiling and some are holding up peace signs.
Listen, if anyone not-white, in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest, walked up to a cop with a can of soda, that person would get cuffed and get a baton behind the knees. Instead, they featured Jenner who, mid-photoshoot, removes her wig, shoves it into the hands of a bewildered-looking black woman, wipes off her lipstick and sashays into the march so that she can get on the front lines to hand the oppressor a can of Pepsi.
What in the living fuck were they thinking? After Kendall successfully centers herself during the march she’s been in for three seconds, she hands the cop the Pepsi, he pops it open and everyone motherfucking cheers — as if racism is finally over! Thank goodness Jenner was there to solve hundreds of years of systemic oppression! The cop takes a sip, turns to look at his colleague and smirks with a look that can only be described as, “I guess I can drink this instead of arresting these assholes.”
The commodification of protest by brands like Pepsi reminds me that there is nothing they don’t mind perverting for their financial gain. It only makes sense that they would pick Kendall Jenner to feature in their ad. I can’t think of another reality-show family who so blatantly appropriates elements of black culture without actually doing anything for black lives.
So yes, fuck Pepsi, but also fuck all brands who exploit labor and target communities of color with their poison. Pepsi is awful, but don’t forget that in general, capitalism is the root cause of most of this bullshit.