Amid widespread backlash, Pepsi has decided to pull its new ad starring Kendall Jenner. In a press release Wednesday, PepsiCo apologized for the Skip Marley-soundtracked ad's insensitive imagery and confirmed the campaign's rollout had been called off entirely. Though the official YouTube upload has indeed been removed, rips of the video are still popping up.
"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding," Wednesday's statement said. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position." Just one day earlier, in separate statements, the company appeared to defend the ad against growing criticism.
In a statement to Adweek Tuesday, Pepsi said the global ad was meant to reflect "people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony." The video, the company told Teen Vogue in a separate statement the same day, was designed to showcase unity. "It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi's brand rallying cry to Live For Now, in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited," Pepsi said at the time.
In a video shared by TMZ Wednesday prior to Pepsi's announcement that the ad had been pulled, activist DeRay Mckesson said the ad showed that celebrities and companies will exploit "social justice work" for fame. "What was so troubling about it is that it made protests seem like it was, like, this fun thing that people just did in the street, as opposed to fighting against injustice and making sure that our voices were heard because we've exhausted every other means," Mckesson said.
Jenner was approached by paparazzi in Paris Wednesday at the airport. She did not address the controversy: