The backlash got so intense that the company was forced to delete the “Live For Now” video campaign, of which the ad was part, from their Pepsi Global YouTube channel. The beverage conglomerate also pulled the Jenner commercial and issued an apology.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding,” the statement began. “Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
After working her way through the crowd, which looks more like a street party than a protest, Jenner eventually reaches a line of police. She then dramatically marches up to an extremely good looking police officer and hands him a Pepsi as a peace offering – and the crowd erupts in cheers.
— Zito (@_Zeets) April 4, 2017
In a media statement when the commericial dropped online, Pepsi claimed that they were trying to capture the "spirit and actions of those people that jump into every moment."
— Oliver Chinyere (@Oliverdirtyb) April 4, 2017
"It features multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments," the statement said. "No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive."
— Jessie Not A Guy (@NicCageMatch) April 5, 2017
The negative reaction to the commercial was immediate and fierce, as thousands took to social media to accuse the company of appropriating protest culture to sell their product, without actually showing support for any of the movements it casually references.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
“I can’t believe noone thought of just giving them [the police] a Pepsi all this time,” one Twitter user wrote in a response to a tweet, mocking the idea that Jenner could end all injustices with the drink.
— reggie (@1942bs) April 4, 2017
"So according to @KendallJenner and @pepsi the racial tension problem is just a matter of thirsty cops," another Twitter user wrote.
— Cassey Shapiro (@casseyshapiro) April 5, 2017
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) April 5, 2017
It was also widely noted that the imagery of Jenner handing the officer the can of soda trivialized a viral photo of Black Lives Matter protester Leshia Evans in Baton Rouge in 2016.