This week, Kendall Jenner partnered with Pepsi and released an extremely controversial ad igniting widespread outcry from those who believe the advertisement downplays the realities of protesting against police and the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad, which has since been taken down, was called into question by many, due to the trivialized portrayal of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the focus of a white woman being the hero of a movement fueled and created by women of color.
Pepsi has since apologized for the commercial, stating, "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize ". Kendall Jenner, on the other hand has avoided the whole situation, silent and unscathed.
The true issue with the commercial is how suddenly Pepsi is willing to join a movement, once it enters the mainstream. Pepsi's unwavering support for the Black Lives Matter movement is so very clear. From the company's enormous donation of exactly no dollars to the cause, to Pepsi's consistent silence of issues surrounding the movement, one can clearly see the enormous role Pepsi has taken on in support.
Advertising to make a difference is one thing, but advertising to monetize on a movement making a difference is a another, far destructive thing. Pepsi, and any other company silent to the issues facing the communities of African Americans, is not allowed to simply put on a mask to hide how disconnected the company is from real social issues. The Black Lives Matter movement is not simply a topic one can pick out of a list of advertisement ideas. The complete misrepresentation of the movement shows how utterly clueless the company is to these issues, highlighting how truly inappropriate it was for Pepsi to release the ad.
Capitalizing on an extremely serious and overlooked issue, while putting a white woman in the spotlight of a movement so disrespected and ignored by women of the same race, is what truly makes this ad so wrong. The Black Lives Matter movement has always been spread and fueled by the hard work and effort of black and colored women. The movement has been kept alive for over 4 years because of the dedication of millions of colored women. Putting Kendall Jenner, a white woman who has never specifically spoken out against black injustices, as the center of this ad, completely overshadows and belittles the millions of colored women who have been the backbone of this movement for years.
What the ad communicates to those dedicated to causes like the Black Lives Matter movement, is that companies are allowed to monetize on extremely serious social issues without ever recognizing and advocating on said issues. The blatant trivialization of the movement is exactly what advocates have faced since the beginning, and it is precisely why the ad has been hit with deserved backlash. The Pepsi commercial hits home with so many, because it is a direct embodiment of the years of ignorance and belittling that the movement has faced for far too long.