Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kendall Jenner's Pepsi Ad: The gift that keeps on giving

Pepsi's "Jump In" ad featuring Kendall Jenner was launched on April 4 and, as I'm sure we all saw, responded to with a hurricane of criticism and was almost universally claimed to be a trivial parody of civil-rights activism in America.  An attempt to ride a wave of populism gone terribly bad.  Pepsi caved to pressure and the commercial was pulled within 24 hours.  But as the days go on, the memes refuse to die.

Forbes, CNN, Fox and countless other outlets pounced on Pepsi, exclaiming poor taste, inauthenticity, cheap marketing, the dangers of going viral... but other media outlets, as reputable as The Atlantic and the Washington Post heralded the failure as a tremendous success.

As The Atlantic put it, "every feature of the ad benefits the company -- even the act of pulling it from the airwaves."  The article argues that the ad was a demonstration of Pepsi branding instead of social justice, and that consumer capitalism may speak louder than social realism.  This would explain why so many people felt provoked by the ad and felt so strongly that they needed to respond in memes... many, many, many memes.  In the end, Pepsi got what they wanted, which is an enormous amount of attention... after all, no attention is bad attention right?

I genuinely hope someone reveals Pepsi sales statistics from April, May and June.  Was there an uptick in sales? Does it matter?

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