Pepsi ad offensive and embarrassing

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

5 April 2017

It considers serious issues from only Pepsi’s point of view

I saw the new Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner. My first instinct was to dismiss it as just another failed attempt of connecting with Millennials. It sported a typical, serious–sounding soundtrack coupled with Millennials doing dancing and ultimately drinking a Pepsi.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

“The issues don’t matter. Only Pepsi matters.”

The wheels come off immediately with a quick cut to Millennials protesting and carrying sings that say, “Join the conversation” and “Peace.” Cut to Kendall Jenner taking off her modeling wig and lipstick, joning the protest.

A Muslim woman frustrated by the project she is working on and an Asian man playing cello also join up.

The pièce de résistance is when the protesters face off with police and Kendall Jenner hands an officer a Pepsi and everyone cheers.

Takeaway? All the world’s very serious problems are solved with a Pepsi.

The Pepsi ad minimizes everyone and everything by seducing people to drink an unhealthy sugar-laden beverage.

Why the Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner is so tone deaf

Black Lives Matter protests could have been averted with a Pepsi, it says. The real issues of police profiling and use of disproportionate force magically fixed. Income equality, politics, women’s equality and the rights of the LGBT community are all fixed with a Pepsi. I bet a Pepsi could even get ISIS to let bygones be bygones.

It even makes cops more friendly and reasonable.

The issues don’t matter. Only Pepsi matters.

I get what the Pepsi ad was trying to convey. It attempts to be a modern version of the Buy the World a Coke spot. However, it fails on an embarrassing level. It is insensitive in the extreme and in very poor taste.

No one with any power at Pepsi or its ad agency could see it. They actually thought they produced something good

They all forgot about the Pepsi brand. Pepsi thought it was making a statement. In a single Pepsi ad, the brand evolves into an insensitive asshole. The brand places more importance on selling Pepsi than on the issues the ad white washes.

This drives me batshit crazy. It never ceases to amaze me that executives allow this kind of thing to happen. I don’t understand it. It shows that brands, even one as large as Pepsi, are often careless. They put their brand secondary to a perceived short-term gain.

We often tell our clients the price of clarity is the risk of offense. It is good advice for brands. Basically, it means a brand should not try to be all things to all people. But the only thing clear in this ad is that it offends EVERYONE.

See more posts in the following related categories: Coke ad Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad


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