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Pepsi’s Commercial Aimed to Promote Unity Backfires

On Tuesday, April 4th, Pepsi released a commercial featuring Kendall Jenner as part of their “Live For Now” campaign.

These moments are “when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back,” according to Pepsi’s press release.

The short film titled “Jump In” shows Kendall Jenner playing a model who leaves her shoot to join a protest. It features other characters like a musician and photographer who also leave their work to join the protest.
The protest shows people holding up signs calling for peace and love. Pepsi believes the short film “takes a more progressive approach to truly reflect today’s generation and what living for now looks like,” according to the press release.

Unfortunately for Pepsi, the ad has received some major backlash on social media for the short film.

Social media users are calling it “exploitative,” “unrealistic,” and “tone-deaf.”

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What does this teach us as PR pros?

  1. Test, test, test!

You always need to test your messages with your target audience before launch. You need to know your target audience and how they are going to respond to your message.

  1. Think about your face for the ad.

In this case, many people are criticizing the casting of a controversial, white and wealthy model to be the face of an ad attempting to showcase diversity and inclusion may not have been the best choice.

  1. Think about your entire message.

Think about the tone, the subliminals and the meaning behind your message as a whole. In Pepsi’s case, they are using imagery of a protest for love and peace. Protests have been Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.35.30 PMvital for the movements like Black Lives Matter, the Resistance, Women’s March and more social justice issues. The ad may reflect protests of this kind, but again, think about the face of your message. Many are calling this ad “tone-deaf” because it doesn’t reflect the way actual protests go. Additionally, promoting love, unity and diversity means using faces that represent this in your message. Pepsi continues to get backlash online and is negatively trending for their ad.

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How do you feel about the short film?

Written by Jasmine Melendez; edited by Hannah Ross

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