The infamous Pepsi Commercial starring Kendall Jenner was the topic of conversation back in 2017, whether people enjoyed it, or were ashamed and enraged by it. It’s obvious that Pepsi was trying to convey an important message with this ad– whatever that may have been– but it didn’t exactly work out the way they hoped.

Semiotic Analysis

0:08–0:11: Some said ‘never’ but the never done come.

0:13–0:15: Yeah, and took our trust.

0:16–0:20: Hate’s been winning, but the lovers ain’t done.

0:20–0:23: Yeah, not on my watch.

0:24–0:25: Yeah, if ya took all my rights away.

0:26–0:27: Yeah, if ya tellin’ me how to pray.

0:28–0:29: Yeah, if ya won’t let us demonstrate.

0:29–0:30: Wrong.

0:30–0:35: We are the lions, we are the chosen.

0:35–0:38: We gonna shine out the dark.

0:39–0:43: We are the movement, this generation.

0:43–0:49: You better know who we are, who we are.

0:51–0:52: Yeah, if I.

0:56–1:00: Some said ‘fire’ when the fire was ice.

1:00–1:03: No, and sold a lie.

1:04–1:05: Yeah, if ya took all my rights away.

1:05–1:07: Yeah, if ya tellin’ me how to pray.

1:07–1:09: Yeah, if ya won’t let us demonstrate.

1:09–1:11: Ya wrong.

1:12–1:14: Living, we growing with pride.

1:14–1:16: All of the lions, we strive.

1:16–1:18: Working so hard to unite.

1:18–1:21:United, we tired of lies, tired of lies.

1:22–1:25: We are the lions, we are the chosen.

1:25–1:28: We gonna shine out the dark.

1:29–1:33: We are the movement, this generation.

1:33–1:36: You better know who we are.

1:39–1:42: We are the lions, we are the chosen.

1:42–1:45: We gonna shine out the dark.

1:45–1:50: We are the movement, this generation.

1:50–1:53: You better know who we are.

1:54–1:58: We are the lions, we are the chosen.

1:58–2:01: We gonna shine out the dark.

2:02–2:06: We are the movement, this generation.

2:12–2:15: Some said ‘never’ but the never done come.

2:15–2:18: We gonna shine out the dark.

2:18–2:23: Hate’s been winning, but the lovers ain’t done.

2:23–2:29: You better know who we are, who we are.

2:31–2:32: Yeah, if I.

[2:39] or 159 seconds in total.

  • A can of Pepsi is opened.
  • A man is playing the violin on a roof top.
  • The same man is now shown playing the violin indoors, very aggressively. He is very sweaty and it seems like the violin strings are broken.
  • People march in protest of something, with smiles on their faces, fists pumping in the air, while holding up signs that say “Join The Conversation”. There are people many backgrounds in this protest.
  • A hijabi woman is working on her photographs, telling us that she probably does this for a living. She seems very stressed and confused.
  • Kendall Jenner is in the middle of a photoshoot while the protest is going on in front of her. She’s wearing a blonde wig and heavy makeup. She poses against the doorframe to a building as a white, male photographer photographs her.
  • The protesters continue to march and now Kendall Jenner notices what’s going on.
  • The violin player is shown again, wearing a hat, playing his instrument more gracefully this time. He is sitting in what looks like an apartment, with blue brick walls. He notices the march going on outside and takes a sip of his Pepsi. He stands outside on his balcony and watches the protesters below him.
  • Two girls sit in outside a restaurant enjoying their meals, smiling and laughing, as the protest goes on behind them.
  • Two other girls who seem to be part of the protest pose to the camera, looking happy.
  • The hijabi woman crumples and throws around her photographs in anger and hears the chants of the protesters outside. She heads downstairs, grabs her camera and joins the march. She takes pictures of the protesters.
  • The violin player has also joined the march. He is carrying his violin in a blue case on his back and smiles as he walks with other citizens.
  • Two men are shown dancing in front of an outdoor restaurant. The people behind them watch and clap.
  • There is a vending machine behind the people at the restaurant that has the Pepsi logo on it.
  • The violin player is shown playing for the dancers alsong with other guitarists. The protesters surround the dancers and players as they stand in the middle.
  • Kendall Jenner is shown again being photographed. She keeps looking over at the protest and sees the violin player. He gestures for her to join them and she smiles back at him.
  • She effortlessly removes her wig and hands it to the black woman standing beside her. As she walks towards the crowd of protesters, she wipes off her dark lipstick.
  • The protesters are holding up signs that say “Peace”, walking towards police.
  • The police are wearing their uniforms and hats and stand in the middle of the street, blocking the protesters path.
  • The protesters are shown posing to the camera, with wide smiles on their face.
  • Kendall Jenner is shown walking through the crowd, smiling at the protesters as they cheer for her. She grabs a can of Pepsi from an ice bucket. She smiles at the violin player and fists bumps a man as she holds the can of soda.
  • She is wearing a full denim outfit with sunglasses on her head.
  • She walks towards the police as the hijabi woman takes a photo of her.
  • Confidently, as she looks at one of the cops in the eyes, she hands him the can of Pepsi.
  • The hijabi woman smiles at what she sees and takes a photo of the cop taking a sip of Pepsi.
  • Kendall Jenner joins the crowd again as they all pumps their fists in the air, smiling and jumping at what just happened. She high fives and laughs with the people around her.
  • The cop smiles at his co-worker.
  • The crowd continues to cheer as the screen fades to black.
  • Kendall Jenner walks in the lead of the crowd of protesters as a text appears at the bottom saying “LIVE BOLDER” and then “LIVE LOUDER”.

Sources

Pepsi:

  • Created and developed by Caleb Bradham in 1893
  • First called Brad’s Drink in 1893, then Pepsi-Cola in 1898 and soon renamed to Pepsi by 1961.
  • Based in Purchase, NY, United States.
  • Brand value of about 11 billion U.S. dollars as of 2020.
  • One of the largest companies in the world.

Kendall Jenner:

  • She has a reality TV show with her family called “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”
  • She began modelling at the age of 14.
  • During 2014 and 2015, she walked runways for major fashion designers in New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks.
  • She is a brand ambassador for Estée Lauder.
  • According to Forbes, she is the highest-paid model with an annual income of $4 million U.S.D.
  • Her net worth is an estimated $22.5 million as of 2018.

It is very clear that Pepsi is capitalizing a very important political movement and it is horrendous. At around 2:04, Kendall Jenner casually walks over to a police officer, who is barely armed, and hands him a can of soda. This leads to “hooray’s” and “yipee’s” from the crowd behind her as if they just solved one of the biggest problems in America. First of all, Pepsi made to this protest look extremely happy and cheerful, which is very different from reality as we all know. Though this may have been okay, Pepsi went on to show that giving a cop a can of soda will lead to some kind of victory. It just doesn’t make any sense. They may have been trying to give some sort of symbolism or metaphors with that can of pop, but it’s very hard to figure out what that may have been.

Too many people have fought– and even died– at protests for Pepsi to make a commercial of a white, rich, conventionally attractive woman giving an unarmed, harmless-looking police officer a can of soda to solve America’s greatest political issues. They may have had good intentions when making this ad, but they clearly did not do a good job of showing it. It seems to me that they took advantage of something that happened often at the time, and tried their best to be liked enough by people to make money off of it.

The commerical VS. reality. Notice the obvious differences?