On Wednesday, PepsiCo released a statement apologizing for its ridiculous #PepsiLivesMatter ad. It only took one day of social media dragging for them to kill the campaign, a clear testament to the power of social networks and a subtle indication that this may be the wokest time in modern human history.
But the apology turned out to be nearly as tone deaf as the ad — carefully redirecting any anger the two-minute spot triggered away from the company’s brand ambassador Kendall Jenner — another example of how far society will go to protect a white woman.
As for Kendall, the 20-year-old is reportedly devastated by the backlash. “This is the first controversial campaign she has been involved with,” a source explains to ETOnline. “Even though she had nothing to do with the production and the message of the campaign, she will be blamed for this since she is the face.” The ad, the source claims, was only supposed to air overseas and not in the U.S., but went viral on our shores after Kendall herself and her mother Kris Jenner shared it across their social media platforms. It was only after she saw her mentions flooded with disgust that Kendall and her family decided to pull all signs of the spot from their pages. She also reportedly had approval over the final cut, but (surprising no one) the reality star never seemed to notice how out of touch with reality the ad was.
“Devastated” as she may be, we’re guessing it won’t stop Kendall from cashing the multi-million dollar check Pepsi cut her to appear in the ad. And a multi-national corporation is doing backflips to protect the reputation of a 20-year-old adult woman who, if she didn’t realize when she first saw the script for the ad how offensive it would be, needs to be far less sheltered, not more.
Ludacris wasn’t granted the same loyalty or protection when Bill O’Reilly came for his Pepsi endorsement in 2002. Luda lost his check and became the face of deplorable urban America because Bill probably walked in on one of his kids rapping along to “What’s Your Fantasy?” Yet, we will probably never know the faces or names who conceived, produced and approved Pepsi’s latest ad, which caused more organic controversy in one day than anything Ludacris has ever done in his almost 20-year career.
PepsiCo is right to (however reluctantly) shoulder the blame — corporations don’t do enough of that these days. But the company’s insistence on jumping in front of Jenner to absorb the hail of negative think-pieces and Twitter threads the ad inspired is as problematic as their original sin. Kendall is grown enough to sign the contract and take the money, why can’t she apply critical thought to her image and impact on society? As for Pepsi, they ostensibly paid seven figures or more for a KarJenner to lend her brand approval to their product, so why shouldn’t she shoulder an equal part of the blame when things went haywire?
This isn’t the first time a corporation has hurt or offended people and not even a protest led by Dr. Kendall Kardashian Jenner X herself will make it the last. PepsiCo’s awkward mockery of social activism aside, they’re just doing business as usual by American standards. Much like Kendall, who is playing a game she inherited with the cards she’s been dealt, Pepsi and every other corporation in the world have just adapted to and excelled in a crooked eco-system that attempts to monetize everything.
That’s what makes the #PepsiLivesMatter commercial offensive on a level beyond race or class. For a corporation to pretend to care about uniting or loving people is bad enough. Pretending their poisonous product could be the key to resolving our current social unrest is even more insulting.
As gratifying as it is to see Twitter outrage kill a multi-million dollar campaign in less than a day, simply blaming Kendall for taking the obliviously privileged role or thinking a boycott will change things anytime soon is as naive as believing Pepsi can end police brutality. It will take sustained outrage, and consistently holding both corporations and the celebrity faces who front them accountable to see real change.
In the mean time, stay woke. And hydrated.