White, wealthy, and blind: Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi advertisement delegitimizes race relations

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Jennie Matuschak, Contributing Writer

Pepsi uploaded to YouTube an advertisement starring reality TV star and model Kendall Jenner on April 4. The advertisement, which was created by an in-house content creation group, expresses Pepsi’s desperation to make a comeback as a soda brand integral to American culture. The video depicts Jenner in the midst of a photoshoot, which is then interrupted by an attractive young man who incites Jenner to leave her modeling gig. She then joins an arbitrary protest filled with ill-defined signs that read “join the conversation” or “peace.”

After making the “daring” choice to wipe off her lipstick and join a nonsensical movement, Jenner grabs a Pepsi, boldly walks to a policeman facing the group, and offers him the soda. Seconds of agonizing suspense pass when at last the policeman takes a sip of Pepsi and smirks, which for some bizarre reason seriously excites the crowd. Following this performance is the tagline, “live bolder, live louder, live for now.” Because the imagery in the ad was so emblematic of the Black Lives Matter movement, Rolling Stone begs the question, “how are people supposed to ‘live for now’ when they can’t breathe?”

Page after page could be written on the levels of absurdity and insensitivity portrayed by this advertisement, but honestly, the most concerning aspect is the fact that a large group of individuals took part in and signed off on this project. Why didn’t anyone realize how off-target and downright terrible their message was?

This advertisement was clearly developed within a group that had little to no diversity in the discussion process whatsoever. The creation of the advertisement itself shows how far removed wealthy, white individuals are from the reality of issues such as Black Lives Matter; in the name of profit, corporations will approve the manipulation of political movements without understanding them.

Anyone with awareness of our society’s structural problems would not put the power to change racially motivated police brutality in the hands of a white millionaire and reality TV star. The protesters depicted in the advertisement are fighting against a hierarchical system of subordination in which Pepsi participates, so the fact that Pepsi tries to relate itself to those protesters is contradictory and again, shows how isolated white elites are from the realities of this country. So, Pepsi did, in fact, “miss the mark.”

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