Pepsi Pulls Its Protest Ad [Watch]
E.J. Schultz and Ann-Christine Diaz, Advertising Age
Pepsi is pulling its Kendall Jenner ad after the spot drew a torrent of criticism, including complaints that the ad was not only clumsily executed but that it co-opted protest movements such as Black Lives Matter for commercial gain. The ad had been planned to run globally across TV and digital.
"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize," the brand said in a statement. "We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."
Pepsi had stood by the widely mocked ad as recently as last evening when the brand issued a statement saying that the global ad "reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that's an important message to convey."
But a majority of people who weighed in on the ad on social media disagreed. Through 5 a.m. ET today, 77% of digital content engagement around the phrase "tone-deaf" mentioned both Kendall Jenner and Pepsi, according to marketing technology company Amobee, which monitors digital content.