Kendall Jenner stars in a new Pepsi commercial that shows a group of young people in a staged protest, ending in cheering when Jenner hands a police officer a can of the soda.


The ad was widely panned online, with the main complaint that the company is appropriating protest culture to try to sell their product. The imagery in the commercial, which is set to Skip Marley‘s “Lions,” is extremely playful and fun. The group holds up non-committal signs that say “Join the Conversation,” or simply feature a heart or peace sign.

Jenner, at first, is just a model doing a shoot, but after making eye contact with an attractive protestor, she decides to ditch her blonde wig and dark lipstick and join the march. In all denim, a la classic Pepsi ads, Jenner walks briskly through the crowd, cracks open a can of Pepsi Max, and hands it to a police officer, who happily accepts the gift. The crowd cheers as he takes a sip and smiles to his colleague.

It’s unclear what these actors are pretending to protest, but none of the recent protests have looked anything like what is depicted in the video. Unlike recent Black Lives Matter movement marches, the Women’s March, or anti-Trump protests, the depicted protest shows no violence and no tension.

Social media wags declared the ad offensive. “Next time @pepsi do one where Kendal Jenner marches to Montgomery but the cops don’t bludgeon her bc she’s white & has a refreshing @pespi,” said writer Jia Tolentino.

“Pepsi’s new ad Kendall Jenner ‘ends racism’ by handling police men a Pepsi – way to degrade 50 yrs of black/minority struggle,” said another user, condemning the company.

Some, like comedian Patton Oswalt, turned to sarcasm to criticize the commercial. “J. Edgar Hoover takes aim from the grassy knoll. The motorcade approaches. He fires. JFK raises a #Pepsi to his lips, blocks the bullet,” he tweeted.

“If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would’ve gotten attested. Who Knew?” tweeted community Deray McKesson, who was taken into custody at a BLM protest.

Beyond that, many are angry that rich, white socialite Jenner was chosen to play the main activist. “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an import message to convey,” said a Pepsi exec to CNN.

The end of the ad rips off the image of Ieshia Evans at a BLM protest in Baton Rouge, where the young woman approached officers in combat gear, who are moving toward her. She was arrested. But in Pepsi’s version, Jenner solves the issue. “If only she’d given them a Pepsi,” writes one Twitter user alongside the iconic photo.

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