De-generation Pepsi

By now, everyone of you might have seen the latest Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner and have read about the controversies and criticism surrounding it. Pepsi has pulled the ad but if you missed it, you can see it here:

This YouTube video had 8,545,407 views: 137502 dislikes and 27202 likes. This means that at least 27202 people—almost 17 percent of the respondents—actually liked it.

Everyone, including the advertising professionals are criticizing the ad. Some, including the veterans of advertising industry, are calling it “the worst ad ever”.

Some professionals of the advertising industry are having second thoughts about the industry while some believe it was done intentionally by PepsiCo counting on the PR (bad PR) it would create which might outweigh the blowback.

Before I go into details, let us see who made the ad and who supervised and approved it before it went on air. PepsiCo’s in-house team, Creators League Studio created the ad. The studio brings in writers, art directors, cinematographers and talent as and when required. This was not a very good idea, to begin with. President, PepsiCo’s global beverage group Brad Jakeman and senior VP, global brand development Kristin Patrick oversee the studio’s operations. Mr. Jakeman was actually proud of the ad. Shortly after its release, he tweeted that he was “super proud of the @PepsiCo #CreatorsLeague for producing this,” but the tweet was deleted soon.

So apparently, the ad was approved by some of the most senior brand development and marketing executives at PepsiCo who were supervising a team of, probably the best, talent of the advertising industry available. And they did not see it coming.

In addition to the thematic errors and attempts to piggyback on popular movements like Black Lives Matter and others, who can miss these glaring production flaws:

  1. What was the protest about? There are these happy, attractive youngsters believe fiercely in “something”. But what exactly? ‘Join the conversation’!! What conversation??
  2. One placard if even in Arabic, or Urdu (both languages have the same script) but just reads “A..B..C..” Definitely very revolutionary.
  3. Kendell was able to change her clothes between the photo shoot and her joining the protest. Although she removed her wig, she was able to keep her hair in shape.
  4. The white man (or woman) rescuing the crowd and its cause, is not in very good taste.
  5. The Muslim girl, donning a Hijab, shown doing a photography project and later hugging a random member of the protesting mob is so against the true culture.

The whole ad led to so many web memes mocking it. Here are some of the best:

The ad was pulled by Pepsi after the uproar on social media and apologized. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” PepsiCo said in a statement. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further roll out. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

Wait a minute. Are they are still concerned about Kendall Jenner who was paid around $1 million for the ad? and who was a willing participant in the event? Looks like PepsiCo has signed a contract with Kendell for more than one ads and we will be seeing more of her in future.

They should seriously check with their communications professionals, if this would be a good idea. It appears PepsiCo does not believe in consulting communication professionals. Otherwise, how this ad would have been approved in the first place. Any PR and communications person would have seen it coming, easily.


4 thoughts on “De-generation Pepsi

Add yours

  1. In my personal opinion and others need not to agree but considering it being an cold drink add, the idea of giving cold drink to cool down things is not bad, it seems ok if we ignore the polotics around, however, its execution and the aspects related to race and gender might have overlooked. Moreover, it is just a cold drink ad, whats so big about it


    1. You’re right that there doesn’t seem much wrong with the ad when you first see it. But if you look a little deeper you’ll see how the ad wanted to piggyback on so many themes but ended up mocking all of them. It has so many controversial elements that made it a mess.


  2. It looks as if the ad has been made in bits and pieces with time lags in between, then merged without scrutiny. Otherwise such blunders were not likely to be left
    for criticism by the viewers.

    Liked by 1 person

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