So what could possibly go wrong with a commercial featuring Kendall Jenner handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer during a police rally? Evidently plenty. And ad critics and late night shows are all having a field day. One accused Pepsi of using images from serious protests to sell while minimizing the dangers protester encounter. Another one thought “Join The Conversation” which was plastered on prominently displayed picket signs was too generic. and too color coordinated to be “real”. And yet another thinks the ad was just too socially-politically correct. Transgender women. Check. Muslim woman. Check. Never mind that in the commercial Kendall Jenner decided to be done with “her photoshoot” to join the protest that she has absolutely no idea what it was about.
The dissection of the ad may go on longer. But at the end of the day, the outrage boils down to one simple fact. The ad lacked authenticity. Unlike Dove which has actively promoted feminist causes as part of it’s platform, Pepsi has not been active in terms of racial issues. So not only does the commercial lack credibility, it’s message lacks conviction.
Brands should be clear about their values. Even at the risk of losing some of its customers who do not agree with you. Pepsi tried to have it bothways by showing young people protesting and yet holding picket signs that were so vague and inoffensive. By not offending anyone they offended everyone.