Pepsi Pulls Its Widely-Mocked Kendall Jenner Ad

Viewers Aren't Buying the 'Socially-Minded' Approach

Published On
Apr 04, 2017

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Pepsi turned to the Kardashian clan for its latest supermodel ad star. Kendall Jenner, half-sister to Kim, Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian, was featured in a new ad called "Jump In" that represents the next chapter in the soda brand's "Live for Now" campaign. But soon after it debuted, Pepsi pulled the spot after it drew a torrent of criticism for co-opting protest movements such as Black Lives Matter for commercial gain.

The backlash came from a broad audience ranging from everyday consumers to mainstream media, to industry professionals.

The ad was intended to run globally across TV and digital and was created by PepsiCo's in-house content creation arm, Creators League Studio, which continues to gain major assignments from the marketer. Ms. Jenner follows in a long line of celebrities that have fronted Pepsi campaigns over the decades, including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyoncé.

In initial coverage of the new ad, Hollywood media began drawing comparisons to Cindy Crawford, who famously appeared in a steamy 1992 Super Bowl ad for the brand. That seems like an overhyped comparison considering that Ms. Crawford's ad -- in which she appeared in jean shorts and a tight tank top as two boys gawked -- is considered one of the best Pepsi Super Bowl ads.

In the new ad, Ms. Jenner seems to sport a new hair color, platinum blonde, as she does a modeling shoot. But in the middle of the job, she decides to join a nondescript peace/protest march, as do a number of other young professionals in the midst of tending to their own projects.

The ad ends as she hands a policeman a Pepsi, which for some reason elicits cheers from the crowd. The ad "captures the spirit and actions of those people that jump into every moment," Pepsi said in a statement. "It features multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive."

The Daily Mail's biggest takeaway concerned Ms. Jenner's hair. "Kendall's new hairstyle is cropped at shoulder-length, just like her natural, glossy cropped 'do, but it's a temporary change for the fashionista who was in fact wearing a hair piece," the newspaper reported in a story about the ad shoot in Bangkok, Thailand. "Unlike sisters Khloe, Kim, Kylie and Kourtney, Kendall has never dyed her natural, raven hair."

Her hair is actually part of the ad's storyline: She flings the wig aside before joining the march. The spot's soundtrack is "Lions" by Skip Marley.

Ms. Jenner, in a statement provided by Pepsi, said: "I am thrilled to join the legendary roster of icons who have represented their generations and worked with Pepsi. To me, Pepsi is more than just a beverage -- it registers as a pop culture icon and a lifestyle that shares a voice with the generation of today. The spirit of Pepsi -- living in the 'now' moment -- is one that I believe in. I make a conscious effort in my everyday life and travels to enjoy every experience of today."

This story has been updated to reflect the latest news around the ad. A version of this story originally appeared on