Pepsi And Kendall Jenner Join The Rogues' Gallery Of Tone-Deaf Ads
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 4/5/2017, 10 a.m.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Pepsi's attempt to piggyback on a social movement with the help of Kendall Jenner is only the latest tone-deaf ad to backfire miserably.
The commercial, in which Jenner ditches a photo shoot to join a street protest and then gives a Pepsi to a police officer, might have been an attempt to capitalize on a message of youth and universal harmony. That's what Coca-Cola did with its iconic "Hilltop" ad in 1971, as "Mad Men" fans know.
But "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" this was not. Critics accused the Pepsi ad of exploiting the Black Lives Matter movement, noting the similarity to the famous photo of leshia Evans, a protester who peacefully faced off with Louisiana police after the fatal shooting of a black man last year.
Pepsi told CNN the ad was meant to reflect "people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony."
It's only the latest doozy from Pepsi. In 2013, Pepsi pulled a Mountain Dew ad that depicted a beaten and distraught white woman facing a police lineup of black suspects and a goat.
And Pepsi is far from the only offender. There's a long history of ads so tone-deaf that it's hard to understand how they ever saw the light of day.
-- Just Wednesday, Nivea, the German skin care company, pulled a deodorant ad that depicted a woman and the slogan "white is purity." The ad was posted on Nivea's Middle East Facebook page. The company ran into similar trouble in 2011, when it apologized for an ad depicting a black man and the slogan "Re-civilize Yourself."
-- A Burger King ad that appeared in Singapore in 2009 depicted a woman with her mouth open and, suggestively placed next to it, the company's BK Super Seven Incher burger. The caption said, "It just tastes better." In a YouTube video years later, the woman said she didn't know her image was being used for that ad. Burger King reportedly blamed an ad agency in Singapore.
-- Bud Light bottles in 2015 sported the slogan "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night," part of an ad campaign called Up for Whatever. Executives for the brand, which is owned by Anheuser Busch, later said they regretted the ad.
-- Last year, a Chinese company called Qiaobi ran a detergent ad that showed an Asian woman shoving a black man into a laundry machine, then pulling out an Asian man, whom she seemed to prefer. Like the Pepsi-Jenner spot, it was vilified not only for being offensive, but for being offensively clueless.
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