All 23 things wrong with Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner advert

Enter the misguided character, Only Kinda Racist Cop.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Ah, a new day, a new terrible thing on the internet. Yes, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the brands are at it again. Overnight, popular carbonated sugar water company Pepsi released their new advert featuring known attractive person Kendall Jenner.

Here is that advert.

Yes, we see Kendall doing some modelling, before a passing protester gives her a cheeky inclusive wink, and she puts the trappings of capitalism away to go on a march. There, she sees a police officer giving a black protester a dirty look. She offers him a delicious Pepsi©. He drinks the Pepsi, and smiles, for racism is now dead.

Viewers were quick to point out the absurdity of this commodification of protest imagery and trivialisation of police brutality:

Yes, this is definitely The Worst thing about this video. But there are so, so many Bad Things here. Let’s take a closer look at all of them, in excruciating detail, in chronological order:

1. Why is Kendall Jenner doing a shoot in a random doorway? What is it for? Homebase? Wickes?


2. Why has this person brought a cello to a protest? Did he not read the NYMAG guides? Because, mate, not bringing a really heavy musical instrument as you pound the streets all day is like, protesting 101. He gives her a not-at-all creepy nod that says, “Come, join us in the struggle over vague platitudes.”


3. The signs, oh good God, the utterly meaningless signs. “LoVE”, “PEACE”, “uniTY”,  the real kicker, “Join The conversation!” (How long do we think it will be before Pepsi responds to the backlash by saying “We wanted to spark a conversation, so thanks to all who engaged with out message.”) There’s also one that looks like a no entry sign behind a blue heart? What does that mean? No love?! I’m getting mixed messages here, guys.


4. Kendall looks at the crowd – her interest is immediately piqued. I’m not sure why, because those generic signs give absolutely no clue as to what they could be fighting for. This could be an anti-Kardashian protest for all Kendall knows. But it is of no consequence. Literally just seeing unspecified protests is enough for Kendall to get involved, she doesn’t give a flying one what it’s for, she just wants to get those heels on the concrete. She is a protest junkie.

5. So moved is Kendall that she immediately whips off her blonde wig and throws it at the nearest black woman. She can deal with it, right? Like, what else would she be here for?


 6. The blonde wig reveals an identical haircut, but brown, because everyone knows brown hair is more serious.


7. She smudges her purple lipstick across her face, dramatically. How did that help anything, Kendall. Calm down.


8. The signs get even stupider. Because Pepsi wants to, like, be as cool as protesting, but not with any of that weird divisive stuff like “women and black people are human beings, too”.


9. Enter misguided character: Only Kinda Racist Cop.


10. Kendall has miraculously changed into a totally new outfit (we call this look, “I’m just like you, but better!”) complete with perfect make up and pale pink lipstick. This is not what happens when you rub purple lipstick all over your face, kids. Just FYI.


11. She exchanges a glance with Cello Man, one that says, “Yeah, I dig that you brought a cello here, that seems normal and not at all overly strenuous. We get each other, me and you.”


12. Kendall (sorta) fist bumps this guy with her Pepsi hand, which as we all know is code for “I’m not, like, a regular white. I’m a cool white.”


13. Which, of course, Only Kinda Racist Cop hates.


14. But Kendall spots his racism a mile off (see: cool white). Don’t worry, civil rights movements. Kendall’s got this.


15. The nearest woman of colour immediately begins to document this moment of white heroism. Like, what else would she be here for?


16. Kendall approaches the (inexplicably non-armed?!) police in a scene reminiscent of a famous #BlackLivesMatter image, only this time, your Friendly Neighbourhood Only Kinda Racist Cops are not armed (wow, armed, police, that would be scary!), Kendall Jenner is here instead, and there is no actual cause to speak of.


17. Only Kinda Racist Cop sips a cool refreshing Pepsi Max©, and the crowd goes wild.


18. Truly, world peace has been achieved at last.


19. Only Kinda Racist Cop turns to his buddie. “Hey man, what can I say?” his face says. “I’m only kinda racist, and this is a lovely carbonated soda.”


20. Live BOLDER, okay? Be MORE cheeky in your interactions with the police! Approach them MORE recklessly! Everything Will Be Fine (As Long As You’re White)!


21. Please tell me who thought “Live For Now” would be a good slogan for a drinks campaign riffing on police brutality.

22. That encourages interactions with the police.

23. In a country where minorities are murdered by the police.

If you spot any more glaring horrors – please do add them to the list.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.