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What the Hell Is This New Pepsi Ad [Update: It’s Been Removed]

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"Let’s use the threat of police violence to sell our product!" — Pepsi, apparently

Pepsi made a new advertisement. People are having feelings about it. [Update, 4/5: see note below]

So, what we have here is a two-minute “short film” — Pepsi’s words, not ours — in which a bunch of millennials have taken to the street for some protest or another. There’s a photographer who appears frustrated with her work! Kendall Jenner is modeling in a blonde wig! A couple of women enjoy a little brunch! Some bros break out an electric guitar and a cello! Some other bros start smiling and dancing! Skip Marley, grandson of Bob, provides the score with his song “Lions”!

The ad’s climactic moment comes when, after throwing off her blonde wig and wiping away her lipstick, Jenner quickly joins the march of protestors and moves to the front of the pack as the crowd nears a wall of hostile-looking policemen. Jenner breaks ranks, stepping ahead of the other marchers to hand one of the officers an ice-cold Pepsi. He smiles and accepts it. Everyone cheers. Crisis averted.

Let’s go to Twitter for reactions!

Pepsi, what were you thinking? This ad is a word cloud of millennial cliches come to life. As one observant Twitter user notes, it looks like the company is trying to recreate the most iconic photograph to come out of a protest in recent years.

The second image was captured at last summer’s demonstrations in Baton Rouge, where protestors were reacting to the shooting death of Alton Sterling, a black man, by a white police officer. Many of the recent protests across America have followed the deaths of black men at the hands of white officers, and a famous person handing a hunky police officer a Pepsi doesn’t seem like it’s going to solve this significant issue, despite what this “short film” might want us to believe. The advertising pros responsible here likely thought they were producing a modern version of Coca-Cola’s famous “Hilltop” adwhich Don Draper might have created — but they missed the mark by, oh, several million miles. Then again, the entire internet is sharing thoughts about the ad, so maybe it’s a huge success.

Or maybe everyone’s missing the bigger picture here.

Wow. Truly historic. Many congratulations to Kendall Jenner. She fixed everything.

UPDATE: After less than 24 hours of being ridiculed by pretty much everyone on the internet, Pepsi has decided to yank the commercial. Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Maloney shares the news:

The video has been removed from YouTube, but the memes will live on for all eternity.

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