UPDATE: Pepsi has pulled an ad featuring fashion model Kendall Jenner that had been widely derided in social media. It is no longer available on YouTube. "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," Pepsi said in a Wednesday press release. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize."
 
It said it was "removing the content and halting any further rollout."
 
An ad for Pepsi, the cola manufacturer may have been attempting to pay court to young and politically active people, but actually triggered them. Starring high-fashion model Kendall Jenner as a high-fashion model, the ad segues between shots of a street protest along with a young Muslim woman in hijab laboring over photographs and an Asian man playing the cello.
 
In description for the commercial, titled “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” Pepsi calls it “a short film about the moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back.” It features “Lions” by Skip Marley.
 
In the video, Kenner dons a blonde wig in the ad while pouting and simpering at the front door of a fashionable establishment while protesters stream by her. It is not clear what the protest is all about. Happy young people are seen bearing signs that bear the peace motif, and phrases such as “love” and “join the conversation.”
 
When she is called upon by a male protester with a wink and a nod, Jenner doffs her blonde wig and joins the protesters who are streaming down an urban street. Soon, a line of grim-faced police officers are seen blocking the way of the happy protesters. Taking the situation into hand, Jenner grabs a can of Pepsi and walks deliberately towards one of the cops and hands it to him. Accepting the offer, the policeman smiles and the crowd goes wild with joy.
Beckoned by one of the protesters, Jenner eventually rips off her blonde wig and joins the fray. Grabbing a can of Pepsi, she heads toward one of the grim-faced police officers, and hands him a drink. He accepts and smiles, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
The final images of the video bears a resemblance to an incident that occurred in July 2016. In Baton Rouge, during protests over poor relations between police and the black community, young Ieshia Evans was seen approaching a squad of police officers in riot gear. Wearing a fashionable dress, Evans offered her hands for a arrest. 
 
On Twitter, criticism for the ad was rife. There were calls for the firing of those who authorized the ad, while some were more humorous. For example, one tweet said, “Hi, I’m Rachel Dolezal for Crystal Pepsi.” Dolezal is a former official of the National Association of Colored People who, while she is actually white, has claimed to be black.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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