From the Influencers

Pepsi's Influencer Blunder Results in Backlash

April 07, 2017

Most of the time, influencer marketing is a great asset that can benefit companies immensely by boosting their following. Other times, influencer marketing campaigns can turn out to be a complete miss, thus damaging the brand’s reputation. This can happen for a variety of reasons but, in the case of Pepsi, its most recent ad suffered because the company chose the wrong influencer.

Now, Pepsi’s choice of Kendall Jenner isn’t the only reason the ad failed miserably. The commercial, which featured a variety of people from all walks of life coming together to protest, was clearly trying to capitalize on U.S. current events. Although you can see the company’s attempts at a positive, unifying message throughout the commercial, it just wasn’t executed properly. And the fact that Kendall appears to resolve any and all tension caused by the protest by handing a police officer a Pepsi is downright insulting to all of the people who have protested legitimate causes throughout history.

Viewers seem to be angry about the notion that a Pepsi could simply stop protests and fix all the tension currently taking place in the U.S. Even Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King, weighed in on the matter by tweeting, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” accompanying an image of her father facing a police officer during a protest.

If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.

— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017

Aside from the historic insensitivity, people are also angry about Pepsi’s decision to make Kendall Jenner the ad’s main character. This upset should serve as a lesson to all brands—it’s essential to make sure that you’re choosing the right influencer to represent your brand and the message you’re trying to send.

Many people are arguing that Jenner knows nothing of the hardships many people in America face every day. Although you can never know someone’s full story, Jenner is in fact a young, wealthy super model. It can be assumed that she’s never had reason to protest, has never been discriminated against, etc. Her own Instagram—which is a major reflection of a person’s lifestyle, and therefore an indicator of what types of products they should be influencing—shows nothing but fashion, parties and travel. Jenner lives a glamorous life, and that’s great for her, but she can’t relate to the hardships Pepsi was trying to portray in its advertisement. So having her swoop in with a can of Pepsi to save the day might not have been Pepsi’s smartest marketing move.

All in all, let this be a lesson to brands everywhere. Do research on your influencers to make sure you’re choosing the right one for your company and message. Just because someone is popular, and Jenner very much is so, doesn’t mean they’re the right person for the job. Brands need to think deeper than face value, and consider how an influencer will mesh with the message that’s being sent out. If it’s not authentic, it won’t resonate with viewers. And then you have to deal with the backlash Pepsi is currently facing. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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