Pepsi has pulled its latest advert starring Kendall Jenner, after it was widely criticised on social media for trivialising protests such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
The advert showed the model leaving a photoshoot to join a group of activists in a street protest. In the most criticised moment, Kendall hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer as a way of diffusing tension, in a crass nod to both recent and historic clashes between law enforcement and protesters.
After it debuted online, it garnered criticism for co-opting the imagery of the Black Lives Matter movement for profit (including a famous photo taken of Leisha Evans at the Baton Rouge protests in July 2016) and for presenting a privileged, white supermodel in a peace-making role.
First, Pepsi stood by the advert, describing it as 'a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony.' However, as opposition grew online, the multi-billion drinks company pulled the clip from YouTube and released a second statement.
'Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue,' they said.
The company confirmed they would be 'halting further rollout' of the advert.
Sources told ET Online that the model is ‘devastated’ by the backlash surrounding this major campaign.
‘This is the first controversial campaign she has been involved with. Even though she had nothing to do with the production and the message of the campaign, she will be blamed for this since she is the face,' they said.
Kendall is yet to comment upon the controversy, but has since deleted all mentions of the advert from her social media profiles.