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Pepsi pulls Kendall Jenner ad after backlash

Many said the ad "disrespected" and "appropriated" the Black Lives Matter movement.

By
Annie Martin
Kendall Jenner attends the Marc Jacobs show at New York Fashion Week on February 16. The model's first Pepsi ad debuted this week to much criticism. File Photo by Andrea Hanks/UPI
Kendall Jenner attends the Marc Jacobs show at New York Fashion Week on February 16. The model's first Pepsi ad debuted this week to much criticism. File Photo by Andrea Hanks/UPI | License Photo

April 5 (UPI) -- Pepsi pulled Kendall Jenner's first soda ad Wednesday after facing heavy backlash on social media.

The company apologized after featuring the 21-year-old model in a protest-themed commercial for its "Live for Now" moments campaign.

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"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," Pepsi said in a statement. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize."

"We did not intend to make light of any serious issue," the company added. "We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position."

Pepsi and Jenner were criticized Tuesday after the company released the ad online.

"The Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco is a perfect example of what happens when there's no black people in the room when decisions are being made," comedian Travon Free tweeted.

"Kendall Jenner ended police brutality with a Pepsi. so if a cop tries to beat or kill you hand them a Pepsi asap!" another person wrote.

The ad, titled "Jump In," shows Jenner ditching a photo shoot to join a crowd of protesters. She approaches a police officer at one point -- echoing an image of Ieshia Evans being arrested at a protest in 2016 following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile -- and diffuses the situation by handing him a can of Pepsi.

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"Kendall Jenner gives a Pepsi to a cop and rids the world of -isms. Y'all can go somewhere with this tone-deaf, shallow and over-produced ad," Huffington Post Black Voices associate editor Taryn Finley tweeted.

"Could you be any more blatant with the disrespect and appropriation of a movement, @pepsi? Is this a sick joke?!" she added.

Jenner said in a press release Tuesday that she was "thrilled" to be named the new face of Pepsi and believes in the "spirit" of the brand's "Live for Now" moments campaign. Pepsi initially defended the ad in a statement to CNBC.

"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," the company said.

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