Following a growing roar of backlash from the social media community, Pepsi has pulled the plug on its controversial ad starring Kendall Jenner, which was released earlier this week.
The commercial features a blonde-wig-wearing Kendall Jenner completing a photo shoot against a wall in Bangkok. She catches sight of a peaceful protest in the streets and decides to join it. Jenner rips off her wig and enters the crowd, later handing a Pepsi can to a police officer.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. 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.”
The ad was widely accused of downplaying the Black Lives Matter movement. Actress Rosario Dawson was among the ad’s many critics. She posted her thoughts to Twitter on Tuesday, pointing out some similarities between it and a music video in which she appeared in 1999.
“Eerily reminiscent of Chemical Brothers ‘Out of Control’ vid we shot in Mexico City ~15 yrs ago sadly minus the point,” Dawson wrote in the tweet. She also included a YouTube link for the “Out of Control” video by The Chemical Brothers.
The video for The Chemical Brothers’ “Out of Control,” directed by W.I.Z., features Dawson making peace with the police by sharing a fictional soda beverage with them. The video was meant to be a commentary on the advertising culture of big companies.
Pepsi initially released a statement Tuesday after receiving a storm of backlash on social media for its ad. The company defended the commercial, saying, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
“I had never been to Bangkok before, so it was interesting to be in that city,” Jenner said of the Pepsi ad ahead of its release. “There were a lot of really cool people on set that I got to meet. It was fun, it was entertaining. The whole concept is really something that I’m about, so it was just fun to be a part of.”
The model shared a behind-the-scenes post from the commercial on Instagram Tuesday. She has not yet spoken out about the backlash the video has received.
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