Kendall Jenner and Pepsi are facing a backlash over an ad which some viewers claim is appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement and using social justice to sell fizzy drinks.
The two-and-a-half minute spot shows the model working on a photoshoot before being distracted by a protest. The star is shown joining the demonstration before picking up a can of soda and handing it over to a police officer who cracks it open and smiles.
The ad has sparked a backlash online with some users saying Pepsi is evoking the imagery of Black Lives Matter protests and co-opting the resistance movement against police brutality in the US.
For some, the image of the millionaire bore a resemblance to those of Ieshia Evans, a young girl who approached law enforcement during protests in Louisiana following the killing of Alton Sterling who was shot by an on-duty police officer.
Kendall Jenner: Can I copy off of you?
Iesha Evans: No.
Kendall:* Looks over shoulder anyway*
Damn that. I'm getting this Pepsi money. pic.twitter.com/NUXwCZnM7p
— C I L L My Landlord (@GuruBluXVIII) April 4, 2017
— Erin Schlissel (@ESchliss) April 4, 2017
Pepsi is standing by the ad for now, telling Adweek in a statement: "This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey."
However, amid the backlash some activists and general tweeters got involved in calling out the reality TV star and the brand.
can you believe kendall jenner solved all the black lives matter issues by giving a pepsi to a cop? inspiring. — Danii G (@gerbatron) April 4, 2017
That Pepsi ad is dumb enough to fascinate me. Like, SO MANY PEOPLE have to have thought that was a good idea. — Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) April 4, 2017
Pepsi told Teen Vogue in a statement that it believed the creative to be showcasing "a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert".
The company continued: "It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to 'Live For Now,' in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited."
Keeping up with the Kardashians star Jenner is yet to react to the furore, with one of her last tweets saying she was "honoured" to be involved in the campaign.
Update: The ad has since been pulled by Pepsi, which has issued an apology and admitted it "missed the mark".