Pepsi pulls Kendall Jenner's protest commercial amid widespread criticism

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017
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Eyewitness News anchor Ken Rosato reports on the controversial commercial.

NEW YORK -- Model and Kardashian clan member Kendall Jenner's turn as a Pepsi-wielding protester has some on social media decrying the imagery as appropriation of the Black Lives Matter movement, and now, the soda maker is pulling the controversial ad.

The "Live for Now Moments " video released Tuesday has Jenner in a platinum wig on a photo shoot when protesters amble by. She rips off her wig, smears away her lipstick and joins them, eventually handing an officer on the demonstration line a can of Pepsi. He gulps some down, and then grins as Jenner dances off with her new friends.

Reaction on social media ranged from some saying the imagery was tone deaf, to it evoking a widely circulated photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans last year in Louisiana. Evans was detained when she approached police at a demonstration in Baton Rouge.

Initially, Pepsi defended the ad in a statement released Tuesday night.

"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," the statement said.

But on Wednesday, Pepsi made the decision to pull the ad amid the widespread criticism.

"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding," the company said. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize."

PepsiCo had previously said the ad would "be seen globally across TV and digital" platforms.