Kendall Gives The World A Pepsi

You’ve already heard about Pepsi’s ad in which Kendall Jenner leaves a fashion shoot to hand a can of soda pop to a cop at a street protest.

It’s demeaning to real protests. It draws on imagery from the 1960s. It’s whitewashing.

No, it’s just a really bad ad.

You don’t even need to see it to know why, since Pepsi explained that it was “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.”

I would have thought its ads were supposed to sell soda pop.

In fact, the spot has all the “right” parts. A gender and racially mixed cast, including a main character wearing a hijab. Quick cuts between images of musicians and a photographer at work, interspersed with smiling people marching with peace signs. A vaguely ethnic dance beat soundtrack.

And then there’s Kendall, airlifted into the production, busy doing whatever it is that spokescelebrities do.

It’s an Edsel of marketing awfulness.

Pepsi isn’t uniquely guilty. Many ads these days are stupid, irrelevant, or offensive because they all come from creative marketers trying to invent “content” in lieu of coming up with a meaningful or useful reason to “engage” with consumers.

It has been going on for a while now, mostly in reaction to the rise of digital marketing, which is less about being creative or compelling, and more about delivering the right offer to the right consumer at the right time. It doesn’t help that people can learn pretty much everything about any brand with a few swipes on their smartphones.

What’s left for advertising to do?

Read the entire essay at Linkedin