The only person who has not responded to Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi advert is the reality TV star turned model herself. The ad, which Pepsi has now been forced to “pull”, has drawn criticism and derision from all corners of the internet.
For those who are on a digital detox or have straight up refused to watch the video, the concept is fairly simple. Jenner, the second youngest of the Kardashian clan, leaves a photo shoot to join a protest where she offers a riot officer a can of Pepsi, prompting the crowd to erupt into raucous applause and the policeman to grin. Borrowing images from the Black Lives Matter movement, the ad has been accused of co-opting, commodifying and trivialising social movements to sell soft drinks.
But while everyone from Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter, Bernice King, and Lena Dunham, has cuttingly ripped apart the advertisement, Jenner has remained deafeningly silent. The model has deleted her two Instagram posts about the Pepsi ad but has yet to issue a statement on her various social media channels.
Although Jenner did give her thoughts on the commercial, which Pepsi initially planned to use in a global ad campaign, the day before it was released.
“I had never been to Bangkok before, so it was interesting to be in that city,” she told Women's Wear Daily. “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.”
She spoke of the campaign’s desire to promote the concept of living for the moment - probably its only feature which has not been eviscerated in think pieces dissecting it scene-by-scene.
“I think a lot of people are caught up in whatever’s happening in someone else’s life and they’re not really paying attention to what’s happening right in front of them most of the time,” she said. “It’s not hard to put your phone down and consciously try and get yourself to live in the moment. That’s what I try and do.”
Jenner, who has been propelled into the public eye from a young age, also referred to a photo she had seen of fellow model Cindy Crawford in a Pepsi advert which appears to have served as her inspiration for the ad.
“She [Cindy Crawford] actually just posted the most epic photo the other day on Instagram of her in an all-Pepsi outfit and I texted someone, ‘I need this full outfit. This is amazing.’ She’s f*****g ridiculously amazing.”
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Activists have said the advert, which is set to a tune by Bob Marley’s grandson Skip Marley, bares no relation to their lived reality of protesting against police brutality and Black Lives Matter organisers have condemned the commerical.
The scene where Jenner approaches a line of officers is a clear reference to the iconic image of a female protester named Ieshia Evans standing strong while being confronted by heavily armoured riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police last year.
Succumbing to widespread criticism, Pepsi announced they were pulling the advert on Wednesday.
The video has been removed from YouTube and in a statement, the company said: "Pepsi was trying to project a global a message of unity, peace and understanding.
"Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."
This represents something of a U-turn from their previous statement which defended the ad as depicting “various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment … to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”
While Jenner, a daughter of the television personalities Kris and Caitlyn Jenner, and a half-sister to Kim, Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian, has yet to comment on the furore, a source told People the model is likely to have been “absolutely mortified” by the reaction. “Anything offensive is just not her. She means well, always,” they said.
The Independent contacted a representative of Jenner for comment.
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