The now-removed video tells a fictional story about a protester—played by model Kendall Jenner—who wins huzzahs from fellow demonstrators after handing a can of pop to a cop.
After years of protests over politics and allegations of police excesses, Pepsi appears to have waded into the same shark-infested waters that have claimed other brands in recent years.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company stated. “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.”
(Give brand managers bonus points for apologizing to the model, who has been the subject of online ridicule.)
Intentionally or not, the ad was released on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, a fact not lost on the Twitter orcs assaulting Pepsi’s corporate castle walls.