Recently, Pepsi has come under fire for publicizing an ad featuring Kendall Jenner, in which the young model successfully negotiates peace between protesters and policemen with a can of soda. This Pepsi commercial has offended many for its ignorant and shallow portrayal of important activist movements today.
Many viewers testified to the obvious allusions the ad made to the Black Lives Matter movement. Unlike the real BLM protests, this commercial version employed barely-armed, nearly jovial police officers. This stark contrast to the brutal and violent reality underscores this ad's tone-deaf messaging.
The Millennial generation has experienced a new wave of activism and social justice appeals as our political and social climates edge toward greater and greater uncertainty. Pepsi was clearly trying to capitalize on this fervor by marketing to a politically and socially active youth culture.
The design of this commercial leads me to believe that Pepsi is ignorant to the reality of protests today. Signs in the ad, which read, "Join The Conversation" whiff at the serious issues like police brutality, systemic racism, and mass incarceration, that movements like Black Lives Matter address.
Pepsi's choice to employ a wealthy, white, and socially-powerful Hollywood it-girl to promote social justice in such a trivial fashion shows the need for corporations with such large consumer bases to take note of the actual political climate in America.
As Millennials, our power of the purse cannot be understated. Through our consumer choices, we can influence companies towards embracing a different tone or attitude in its media campaigns. The way in which many Americans have divested from the major banks supporting the North Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrate this monetary power.
Most importantly, the fact that this ad was approved through multiple levels of the Pepsi corporation demonstrates the need for our generation to more firmly articulate our vision and goals for the future. The trivialization of activism as something edgy or stylish (as depicted by Kendall in this instance) must end.