Leaving no social movement un-squeezed for profit, Pepsi and Kendall Jenner have teamed up to rinse the recent waves of social unrest and protest for a Woke Dollar. A Woke Dollar is worth more than regular currency because they don’t just get the cash, they get the kudos. ‘Black Lives Matter!’ The advert thinks it says. ‘Pussy Power! Women* should* March On Washington! Right on! Capitalism cares, you guys.’
It is two minutes and thirty-nine seconds of Pepsi Co making a frantic grab for your money and your esteem, while Kendall Jenner shows that she digs a protest.
If you haven’t watched it, I am about to describe it to you so you don’t have to. Think of this as like when Alan Partridge describes the opening credits of The Spy Who Loves Me. ‘I’m Roger Moore. Bang! Blood dribbles down.’
It opens with a bloke playing the cello, he’s all sweaty from playing it because he’s passionate, and that’s what Pepsi Co is all about - passion. So, he’s on a roof - I think it’s a helipad but that doesn’t really matter - and really going for it on this massive cello. Sparks are literally flying even though he’s all wet. It seems like it could be bad for the instrument to keep going at it while everything around is sodden, but passion doesn't have to make sense.
Meanwhile, down below, there’s loads of protesters, all holding up these placards with nice, bland messages written on them, like ‘Love’ and ‘Join The Conversation’. Oooh, aren’t you thirsty for a nice cold can of Pepsi? The screen flashes between this cello bloke’s hair, all sweaty from his love of the cello or is it Pepsi I forget, and these youthful protesters who don't seem even remotely pissed off about anything. Did I tell you they're holding signs and everything? It's about peace or something. I think. The camera cuts to a woman. She's wearing a hijab, and she’s making art.
While all this is going on Kendall Jenner’s posing in a photoshoot and wearing a blonde wig. You know it’s her but it doesn’t look exactly like her and she’s wearing this smashing dark lipstick and a dress made out of tinfoil. When these daring young protesters walk past she’s all like ‘Why am I wearing a dress made out of tinfoil and a wig and why am I not holding up a peace sign and wearing jeans?’ You can see it in her eyes.
Cut to the cello bloke, who has taken his bow and fiddle indoors and possibly had a shower because he looks a lot less sweaty than before. Mmmm, a swig of Pepsi and a lean over his Juliet balcony does the job. (Aside: what kind of flat does this man live in? One that has a helipad but is also in a terraced house?? What kind of rent is he paying?) The protest looks better than playing the cello. The woman making art is getting frustrated with her art and joins the protest to protest against being annoyed at her art.
Meanwhile, the cello bloke is walking with his stupid cello strapped to his back (why not?) and Kendall sees him. Off comes the wig, she smudges the lipstick. Stupid wig, stupid lipstick. She walks through the crowd of really happy protesters and has a Pepsi. Delicious, sweet Pepsi. A man fistbumps her for holding a can of Pepsi and also for appropriating the protest movement for financial gain. Score!
The young people are dancing and smiling but this row of cops just Does Not Get It. They’re not smiling or anything. None of them has a Pepsi. God, I want a Pepsi. So Kendall - who is now wearing jeans and not a tinfoil dress - goes up and gives a cop a can of Pepsi in what is in no way a stomach-churning replication of this incredibly poignant moment from a Black Lives Matter protest. It just isn’t, you’re imagining it. Don’t you want a nice cold Pepsi?
The police officer drinks his delicious Pepsi and everyone cheers and hugs each other, and then the camera cuts to a load of the protesters walking towards it, and the words LIVE BOLDER, LIVE LOUDER, LIVE FOR NOW are written underneath and we all go out and buy a Pepsi to show that we’re protesting against the fact we’re not drinking a Pepsi right now.
To conclude, for a company that is worth $19.4billion and a model with a reported worth of over $36 million, you’d have thought they could have made an advert that didn’t seem quite so desperate. Pepsi, you could say, has failed the taste test.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.