Skip to navigationSkip to content
Screenshot
I know just the thing.
THE PEACEMAKER

“All Rodney King needed to avoid that beating”: Pepsi’s faux-protest ad is crushed by Twitter

By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Apparently, all you need is a can of Pepsi.

A new Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner saw swift backlash from the internet, with people calling it tone-deaf for its seeming misappropriation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the video, released April 4, Jenner is seen donning a platinum blond wig for a photo shoot as protesters wielding signs like “Join the conversation” and “Love” pass by. Inspired, Jenner walks out on the job, ripping off her wig and wiping off her lipstick to join the throng of young people. As she marches toward the front, she grabs a can of Pepsi and hands it over to a police officer. The crowd breaks out in cheers when he accepts and opens it.

For many, the final scene of the ad evoked the iconic moment last year when protestor Leshia Evans approached police officers in a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While the ad suggests a Pepsi could broker peaceful harmony between protestors and police, it’s a stark contrast to the accounts of police brutality fresh on Americans’ minds, such as the cases of Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, who all died at the hands of law enforcement officers. In addition, Americans last month commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King riots, when officers from the Los Angeles Police Department brutally beat an unarmed black man, erupting in violence and unrest across the city for five days that left more than 50 people dead.

Naturally, people took their outrage to Twitter—with some excellent modern-day captions of photos of Martin Luther King Jr:

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.