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  • Writer's pictureSMS USYD

Pepsi Commercial FT. Kendall Jenner - Marketing Campaign Fails #1

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

The views expressed in this article are a compilation and synthesis of viewpoints external to SMS about the Pepsi x Kendall Jenner commercial. SMS stands in solidarity with the Black and Indigenous communities, as well as other minorities who have faced systemic oppression and racism. We endeavour to continue learning about racial inequality, discrimination and abuse in all its forms, evaluate ourselves, and take action to elevate marginalised voices and fight white supremacy.

Why didn’t it work?


In 2017, PepsiCo launched the “Live for Now – Moments” campaign featuring Kendall Jenner. The ad showcased the model marching with the protesters and handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer, receiving appraisal from the protesters.

What happened?

The PepsiCo commercial alluded to the Black Lives Matter movement, yet displayed generic protest signs and police as jovial, harmless and unarmed. Such misrepresentation offended socially aware audiences and portrayed PepsiCo as ignorant and insensitive to pressing social justice issues. Many Millennials and Gen Z’s took to social media to voice their criticisms of the controversial campaign. In response, PepsiCo immediately canceled the commercial within 48 hours.

Key Takeaways

Although the campaign’s goal was to appeal to millennials and to present themselves as socially relevant, it did the exact opposite. Instead, PepsiCo was criticised for taking advantage of social activism as a means to endorse their brand and product.

This highlights the new standard that consumers demand from companies and their marketing approaches: to demonstrate emotional resonance with current social climates, progressivism and authenticity. Thus, the key takeaway is that tactful research and effective communication are pivotal in the world of marketing.

Written by Sena Yanaka and Simone Wei.


B. (2020, February 21). Case Study: PepsiCo & Kendall Jenner’s Controversial Commercial. Astute.

Caruso, A. (2017, April 28). Why Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Commercial is Extremely Offensive. Spoon University.


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