Updated April 6, 11 a.m. PT: Madonna is throwing some serious shade at Pepsi by way of a salty Instagram post.
After all the controversy surrounding Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi protest ad, which has now been pulled, Madonna posted a photo of herself wearing all red and holding a can of Coca Cola, Pepsi’s biggest competitor.
In case the shade was too subtle for anyone, Madge made sure to include a close-up on the Coke can in her post.
Madonna starred in a Pepsi ad that was pulled 30 years ago after backlash and boycott threats from religious groups. Her ad featured her song “Like a Prayer,” and debuted the day before the official music video for the song, which showed Madonna burning crosses and kissing a black saint, sparking the backlash.
Updated April 4, 2017, 11 a.m. PT: It is now being reported by Variety that Pepsi will pull the Kendall Jenner ad and stop any further rollout of the campaign. In an official statement, Pepsi explained their decision: “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 pulling the content and halting any further roll-out. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
Jenner has yet to comment on the controversy.
Unless you’ve checked in on Twitter in the last day, you’ll have missed the very, very, very large group of people currently tearing Kendall Jenner’s new Pepsi ad limb from limb. The kindest reaction is that Jenner’s Pepsi ad is tone-deaf, but many feel that the way the ad attempts to portray Pepsi as a thing that can heal the divide between protesters and the police is a gross move.
Jenner dropped the ad on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. Linking to the 30-second commercial-length clip, Jenner was excited to show off a new ad campaign. This isn’t the first commercial she’s ever starred in nor is it the first one she’s starred in this year, but there was something odd right off the bat about this Pepsi commercial. See if you can spot the problem in the commercial.
See it? So basically, the major backlash to this commercial stems from the fact that the ad tries to sell Pepsi as a product that could solve issues between people protesting important issues and the police who seek to control the crowd. Somehow, a can of Pepsi is able to calm down the police and get them to see why the protesters are taking to the streets. “There’s no need for violence when there’s Pepsi involved!” is basically this ad’s message. Reactions to this can best be summed up with one word: yikes.
That message skews even further in the wrong direction because people are picking up on the fact that Jenner, very clearly a privileged white woman in this commercial (e.g. she’s still a model), is being shown as the one who can bridge the divide. Again, probably not the best idea, Pepsi, for you to choose a white woman to save the day when protests of this nature IRL actually have very real stakes and consequences for protesters of color, not white protesters.
The inoffensive generic protest signs in Pepsi's woke Kendall Jenner ad are hilarious. pic.twitter.com/9t2h6YxCZL
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) April 4, 2017
Many are drawing comparisons to the imagery the Pepsi ad conjures, including famous images of protesters in very real, very potentially dangerous situations. One of the most famous images is that of Ieshia Evans, who was famously caught on camera standing up to police in riot gear during a Black Lives Matter protest. On Twitter, the connection to the gravity of Evans’ actions and the Pepsi ad‘s attempts to commodify that by acting like guns and riot gear can be traded for Pepsi when a protester approaches a police officer was not missed.
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
— Keep Rae Shining (@GuruBluXVIII) April 4, 2017
That new Pepsi ad 💀
Gonna tell my grandchildren about the day Kendall Jenner stopped police violence in the US with a can of soda
— Nibel (@Nibellion) April 5, 2017
The Coca Cola marketing team after viewing the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi collab pic.twitter.com/SJYZkbR6hC
— Mike 🎄 (@majtague) April 4, 2017
This ad is definitely going to be in the public consciousness for a while longer, but it may not be for the reasons Jenner and Pepsi were hoping.