The newly released Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad has been making headlines but all for the wrong reasons. The commercial which sees the model solve the American racial divide with a can of soda ignited an online firestorm as soon as it was released Tuesday. Commentators lashed out on both the brand and Jenner, accusing them of trivializing widespread protests like Black Lives Matter and Women’s Marches to sell its product.
The company issued an apology for the commercial in a statement a day after, saying: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
The Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad isn’t the first commercial from the company which was dubbed “offensive.” Being around for more than a century now, Pepsi had released a few misfires in an attempt to stay relevant. Here are five times the soda maker got in trouble for its ads:
Pepsi Max Suicide Ads
For those who may not know, Pepsi Zero Sugar, the one-calorie alternative to Diet Pepsi, was previously named Pepsi Max. It had a tagline: “Pepsi Max. One very lonely calorie.” And what does one “very lonely” calorie do? It attempts to kill itself in a series of print ads that ran in German magazines.
Pepsi created various versions of the lonely calorie’s “suicide” by hanging itself, poison intake, and even slitting its wrists. After the controversy, the company pulled the ad.
Pepsi Max Love Hurts Commercial
In 2011, Pepsi ran a commercial for the same drink featuring a black couple. The wife keeps nagging her husband, stopping him from eating junk food. But when he drinks a can of Pepsi Max, the wife shockingly sits down and starts drinking too. All seems well until a white female jogger passes by and the husband checks her out. Catching him in the act, the wife throws the can of soda at the husband who ducks, therefore hitting the jogger who gets knocked out completely.
The Love Hurts ad, although confusing, made its own point. However, many noticed that the video somehow perpetuated negative racial and gender stereotypes. Brad Bosley, who directed the ad, responded to the allegations, claiming it wasn’t intentional and that the actors suited the generic couple he had in mind. “Those were the best actors [he] had and [he] put them in there without thinking about race at all,” he explained.
Diet Pepsi ‘Skinny’ Can
In the same year, the company was accused of body shaming for introducing a slim version of Diet Pepsi. The new variant, which was released just in time for Fashion Week, was promoted as “taller” and “sassier” than the original one and that the “slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks.”
The ad earned criticisms for stereotyping women, body image, and beauty. The National Eating Disorders Association even called it “thoughtless and irresponsible.”
Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ Ad
This was probably one of the most popular and much awaited Pepsi ads in history. There were teasers for the full version aired and Madonna herself called the commercial “very, very, sweet.” The ad sees her singing the popular song in different places — a diner, a church, a city street. But some viewers confused the commercial with Madonna’s official “Like a Prayer” video, which featured scenes of burning crosses, stigmata, and a pop star kissing a priest.
Boycott threats arose with religious groups accusing Madonna of “ridiculing Christianity,” and urged Pepsi to drop their deal with her. The company eventually pulled out the ad.
Mountain Dew’s Snitch Ad
In a 2013 commercial for the Pepsi-owned brand, a battered woman is told to point out her abuser in a police lineup. All the men in the lineup are black, except for one goat. The goat tells the woman, “Ya better not snitch on a player” and “keep ya mouth shut.” In the end, she screams and runs away.
The Mountain Dew ad sparked outrage, causing Mountain Dew to remove the ad almost immediately, per Daily Beast.
Any thoughts on the Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad? Which of the above-mentioned commercials do you think is the most offensive? Let us know in the comments below!