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Pepsi pulls 'tone deaf' Kendall Jenner protest ad after sustained backlash

The advert was released on the 49th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Updated 7.01 pm

DRINKS GIANT PEPSI has taken down a new advert featuring reality TV star Kendall Jenner after it sparked outrage for commercialising protesters and making light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The advert led to people sharing images of the civil rights movement and recent Black Lives Matter protests to illustrate why people find the advert inappropriate.

Pepsi’s Live for Now Moments video released yesterday (on the date of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination) shows Jenner in a platinum wig on a photoshoot when protesters dance by.

She rips off her wig, smears away her lipstick and joins them, eventually handing an officer on the demonstration line a can of Pepsi.

He gulps some down, and then grins as Jenner and her friends cheer with delight.

After it faced sustained criticism Pepsi apologised, saying it had “missed the mark”. In its statement, Pepsi also apologised to Jenner:

Pepsi was trying to project a global 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 removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.

Kendal Jenner PepsiSource: Pepsi Max/YouTube

There had been huge reaction to the advert on social media: some say the imagery was tone-deaf, while many others shared an iconic photo of Black Lives Matter protester Leshia Evans last year in Louisiana.

Evans was detained when she approached police at a demonstration in Baton Rouge as part of protests over the unfair treatment of the black community by their police force.

‘Kendall, please! Give him a Pepsi!’

Others shared historic images of civil rights leaders and iconic protesters to show how inappropriate it was to profit off protest movements.

In a statement late last night, Pepsi had at first defended the ad.

This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.

Others said that anger over the advert was blown out of proportion, and that it would be better put to use by focusing on actual humanitarian issues.

This isn’t the first time civil rights movements have been used as advertisements: in 1999 the Chemical Brothers released a music video (as pointed out by FACT) showing a face-off between Mexican police and protesters – solved by a cola drink.

Coca Cola released a similar ad in the 1970s in response to the Vietnam War protests.

Read: Nivea pulls ‘racist’ advert that bore the message ‘white is purity’

Read: Everyone is absolutely laying into Pepsi’s ‘tone-deaf’ ad starring Kendall Jenner at a protest

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