This past week, a lot of discussion on social media has been circulating around a Pepsi ad that did not go over well with a majority of viewers. The ad featured celebrity Kendall Jenner, as she broke from her modeling job to join a riot. The ad tried to showcase people of different backgrounds, ending with Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer to end the riot and start a party. People took to Twitter immediately with their opinions to the “#Pepsi” ad:
— ET Canada (@ETCanada) April 6, 2017
Many people used the same phrase to describe this ad; “tone deaf”. This is because Pepsi tried to capitalize on numerous hot current social issues. They completely missed the mark by asserting the problems of today could be solved with a Pepsi, and it seemed like an insensitive generalization.
— Inspired Mobile (@inspired_mobile) April 15, 2017
The advertisement hinted at issues such as Black Lives Matter or other racial tensions, but did so in a stereotypical manner without actually touching upon what really matters or making a statement of any kind. They did not take one side or the other, they seemingly just incorporated issues they assumed would grab consumers’ attention, but didn’t take a stance as to not lose customers on either side.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 11, 2017
Sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live took the epic failure of an ad from Pepsi as a chance to create a successful skit. They made light of some reasons this ad went over so poorly with consumers. They showed just how generalized representations of different races were, and how insensitive the claim was that a simple bottle of Pepsi could solve the social problems currently happening in the country.
— Monsters Unlimited (@thinkMONSTERS) April 13, 2017
Some tweeters asserted that maybe Pepsi was getting more heat than it deserved. This was an overwhelming minority however, as most people immediately saw right through the flaws of the commercial spot done by in house advertisers.
— Brandon Peterson (@bpeterson40) April 15, 2017
Other consumers shared that they did not have the same negative feelings towards the ad for a different reason, like that they thought it was more hilariously bad than offensive. Still not the kind of reaction Pepsi was hoping to receive.
— Brandwatch React (@BW_React) April 11, 2017
By the time the issue had settled down for the most part, some accounts analyzed just how much backlash Pepsi received. The most common and shared reaction was that this commercial was just tone deaf to the current social issues in America, and tried (and failed) to touch upon social injustice and Black Lives Matter in a way that did not connect with consumers.