Analytical Essay on Black Lives Matter Movement: Analysis of Advertising Campaign of Pepsi in 2017

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For our advertising campaign I chose to compare it to the 2017 Pepsi campaign featuring Kendall Jenner as the leading lady. I chose this advert to use as a guideline on what not to do, in my opinion this Pepsi campaign embodies everything advertisement should avoid, due to the plethora of moral issues. There was so much backlash surrounding the commercial that Pepsi was forced to remove it from viewing platforms. During two thousand and seventeen, participating in activism progressively became more noticeable on social media. Catching the eye of widely recognized brands such as NIke,Hulu,Gillette and H&M. At the time I believe Pepsi thought it would be an exceptional opportunity to exploit what is known as Woke culture. This way they could promote their brand in a edgy and controversial way that catered to their audience whilst still upholding their brand values. This caused them to make a two-minute and forty-second commercial modeled after the Black Lives Matter movement. During this period a group of racially diverse people are protesting. Kendall watches the protesters whilst doing a photoshoot. Kendall then decides to shed off her blonde lace front wig and makeup to join the protest.Kendall then proceeds to steps in the frontline of the protesters grab a can of pepsi, hand it to a police officer and as a result everyone cheers and all's right with the world.

After the global uproar Pepsi had no choice but to issue an apology statement to the offended public “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. 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.”(Pepsi, 2017)

However Pepsi’s apology only fueled flame to the fire, many people considered the statement half-assed and superficial. Disregarding the many sacrifices and days of devotion people made in order to fix the racial issues plaguing their community.

The main issue this advert had was the exploitation of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.Throughout 2017 there were many individuals specifically in the United States fighting against police brutality and racial injustice. Due to the amount of coloured people being killed by police officers, under what most people would consider to be, an absurd circumstance.Individuals partaking in the Black Lives Matter protests are solemn, serious and most of all they are extremely vocal about what it is they are fighting for. During these protests altercations break out, people are pepper sprayed,shoved, beaten and arrested.

Fighting for what you think is right is not for the faint hearted and at often times is an appalling and grotesque sight to behold. However in the Pepsi advert protesters walk the streets with colourful “love” and “peace” signs with no real purpose. Every person is portrayed as either happy, cheerful or chipper, this completely diminishes the struggle people go through when fighting to make a change.

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Masses accused the company of undermining the sheer terror that takes place when participating in these events.Elle Hearns, a formal coordinator for the Black Lives Matter protest stated “No one is finding joy from Pepsi at a protest. That’s just not the reality of our lives. That’s not what it looks like to take bold action” (Murillo, 2017) After viewing the advert Bernice King the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., pioneer of the Civil Rights protest proceeded to tweet 'If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi' (, 2017) Mocking the brand for it’s tasteless execution of of the advert.

Bernice Kings reaction after the advert

Although the advert is considerably problematic the audience true outrage, lays at the end of the clip. Not only did Pepsi undermine the reality of the Black Lives Matter movement but they used a twenty-one year old Caucasian model to do it. Most people have compared the last scene of the advert to an undoubtedly similar picture of twenty-eight year old Leshia Evans. The photo was taken in Baton Rouge, Louisiana during a Black Lives Matter rally,Evans boldly stands on the frontline facing off a mass of police officers. Many people found it to be inspirational, they were able to relate it to the injustice they face in their own lives.

While Kendall faced with a smiling police officer who had accepted her peace-offering and was praised by the protesters around he. The same could not be said for Evans she was unfortunately arrested for her stance and blatant defiance.Many people felt as though comparing a white female to one of colour was completely inaccurate. This was because it was more likely Evans would face racial injustice, because Kendall has the luxury of what is known as white privilege. Due to this people deemed the action as a form of gentrification and cultural appropriation.

Lead female handing a Pepsi can to a police officer (left), Leshia Evans getting arrested whilst standing against police brutality (right).

Due to poor planning and lack of research Pepsi unfortunately, ended up with a two-minute, multi million dollar, tone-deaf advert lead by a reality tv star that lacked purpose and direction. This made me realise that for our advert we needed to be precise in exactly what kind of message we wanted our audience to receive. Although a message can be clear in production it doesn't always necessarily mean that everyone is going to interpret it in the same way. With Pepsi they wanted an ad that was going to bring a range of cultures together to work in harmony for the better good.I also was made aware that cultural values can play a huge part in how people consume your brand. Pepsi tried to communicate the culture of ethnic minorities but lacked the vision and research to carry it out. To avoid these mistakes we took into full consideration on whether or not our ad would cause any political or cultural offense. I found casting in our advert could be a make or break.Pepsi having a white female lead, that in my opinion completely misses the point of racial minorities coming together. Instead their lead comes off as, a somewhat saviour of the people. I was also made aware that cultural values can play a huge part in how people consume your brand.

Our aim was to get people to recycle, recycling is a all inclusive activity which means anyone can do it. We wanted our brand to young people but still have a old school feel that older generations could relate to, this lead to our tagline It’s recycling not rocket science. Rocket science in itself is a great achievement but it took one person to take that first step, to achieve and benefit on everything we have today. This includes but is not limited to rocket ships, space satellites and man being able to step foot on the moon. We wanted to relate this to everyone taking that first step and realising it's not impossible to help the earth it is as simple as properly throwing away plastics.We came to the conclusion that we would join archive footage of scientific achievements that were based on rocket science. For a more modern approach, we paired the archive footage with our own footage, this is what gave it a more modern setting whilst still making it look like it is from a different era. For the music in our advert we went with a remix of The Space Odyssey Theme to give it a vintage feel with a modern twist.For our logo we went for a design that looked like a pin or a patch which were both popular trends in the same. People often say trends don't die they are just recycled. For our poster we chose to do two different styles that way there would be a fun variation. One poster has a jump off the page pop art kind of style, the other is more social awareness/hyper realisation style.


  1. (2017). Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].
  2. HISTORY. (2010). Montgomery Bus Boycott. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].
  3. Murillo, V. (2017). Pepsi’s New Commercial Trivializes Social Justice Movements. [online] UCM Prodigy. Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].
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