opinion

Kendall Jenner's absurd new Pepsi ad has everybody grabbing their pitchforks.

Kendall Jenner appears in a new advertisement roughly every 4-6 hours. That’s not a statistical fact, but rather my personal belief, which is probably (definitely) true.

Few celebrities are as ubiquitous and seemingly marketable as Jenner – a 21-year-old model who happens to belong to one of the world’s most influential families. She’s young and beautiful and ‘cool’, but enough of a blank canvas that companies from Estee Lauder to Marc Jacobs to Fendi to La Perla choose to feature her in their campaigns.

To the biggest brands, she’s the default choice: the epitome of the millennial ‘Instagirl’ with a huge social media following and an uncontroversial image. Jenner is apolitical and uncomplicated. She’s ‘every girl’ while representing literally no one at the same time.

So when Pepsi chose her for their most recent ad, it seemed like a perfect choice. Until the campaign was released today, and everyone saw it.

Kendall Jenner in the latest campaign. Image via Pepsi Global.

The ad begins with a song by Skip Marley (the grandson of Bob) and shots of a protest. Black, white, transgender, gay and Muslim people are marching, holding entirely ambiguous signs (that happen to resemble the colour of a can of Pepsi), and smiling as they walk.

The signs read, 'Join the conversation,' and 'Love,' so it seems peaceful - aside from the line of policeman standing in their way. At the same time, a young Muslim woman sits and works in a studio of some kind, with photos and a pencil.

People ALWAYS protest about 'joining the conversation'... right?
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Jenner, of course, is a model on a photo shoot. She's wearing a blonde wig (because she's WORKING as a model, guys) and being photographed as the protesters walk by - completely oblivious to it.

The protesters are playing music and dancing, cheering and smiling, because protests are fun and intrinsically lighthearted.

But when a young, attractive man catches Jenner's eye, she decides she must participate. Just to reiterate - it's nothing to do with the purpose of the protest that encourages her to march, it's a hot guy. Being hot. With his eyes. 

So she throws her blonde wig into the face of a black woman, wipes off her lipstick, and changes her outfit remarkably quickly.

'Take this, I'm protesting.' Image via Pepsi Global.

She's now in double denim, dressed like she's going to a festival, and smiling (obviously). She marches through the crowd and grabs a can of Pepsi, fist-pumping the other protesters, because protesting is cool and a great way to make friends.

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Then, she approaches a police officer with the can, and hands it to him (albeit very strangely. Somehow we think she hasn't done a lot of Pepsi-handling in her time).

Gurrrl, please. Image via Pepsi Global.

The moment is snapped by the Muslim woman, because it's so meaningful. Almost like the moment a black woman faced a police officer during the Black Lives Matter movement. Almost like that. Except not at all.

Jenner then returns to the crowd and continues to smile and laugh. It's all very fun protesting. Especially when no one knows what you're actually protesting about.

Young people these days - amirite?!

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The police officer smiles knowingly at his colleague, as if to say, 'she's right. The Pepsi is good.'

Unsurprisingly, Twitter's reaction to the ad went something like this:

NO, KENDALL. NO.

People are so, so angry.

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At a time of unprecedented political and social unrest in the United States, where the imagery of protest is innately intertwined with the fight against police brutality against racial minorities, as well as the women's march against Trump, it's utterly absurd to depict Kendall Jenner facing a police officer with a can of Pepsi and celebrating.

We know what has happened historically when black people face police while protesting. We know what the act of protest means to people all over the world in 2017.

So why this ad? Why make it? What is it trying to say?

I'd hazard a guess that we'll never know.

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