Pepsi Removes Ad After Accusations of Belittling BLM

(Photo: Pepsi Global)

               Martin Luther King Jr.’s Daughter, Bernice King tweeted on Tuesday April 5, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” Her tweet was in response to the release of Pepsi’s latest ad which portrays what many interpret to be a mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement.

               The ad shows a number of young people smiling, laughing, and high fiving in the street while holding signs which read “Join the conversation”. It then reveals a line of white policemen standing facing the crowd disapprovingly. Model Kendall Jenner walks airily up to a policeman and hands him a can of Pepsi. The policemen then appear more friendly and the entire crowd begins to fist-pump and become impossibly happy about the success of Jenner’s gesture.

               The image of a mega-rich young thin white woman easing racial tension between protesters and police was, unsurprisingly, not warmly accepted by many. Immediately, people were offended by the ad because it minimized the reality of activism and the seriousness of not only Black Lives Matter, but also past protests and the civil rights movement. Former organizer for BLM, Elle Hearns said the ad “plays down the sacrifices people have historically taken in utilizing protests. That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action.”

               Pepsi took down the ad within 24 hours of posting and released the statement, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize.”

Alanna Shingler Staff Reporter