You have to feel at least a little bit sorry for Kendall Jenner. The model and member of nouveau-royal family the Kardashian-Jenners was selected to join the elite ranks of Pepsi campaign faces.
Michael Jackson, Cindy Crawford, Madonna, Beyoncé and Britney had all gone where she was about to step, into a high-production ad campaign that would net her millions and secure her place as one of the special people.
And then, the ad dropped, and the socially active universe of Twitter accused the ad of attempting to profit off of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pepsi pulled the ad – and issued an apology – but Kendall went silent. She’s now broken that silence some six months later, addressing the controversy in the 14th season premiere of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
The episode was filmed around the time of the episode, and while the name ‘Pepsi’ is not mentioned once, it’s not hard to determine what the sisters are discussing.
It begins with Kendall calls her Kourtney and Khloé. “Are you okay?” asks Kourtney. “You sound so sad.”
“I’m alright,” Kendall replies.
“I talked to Simon today,” Kourtney says, evidently referring to PR guru Simon Huck. “He was like, ‘the news lasts 24 hours’.”
“It’s lasting longer,” says Kendall.
“Kendall did a commercial, and it basically caused a huge controversy, and it sucks because Kendall’s been taking the blame for it all,” Khloé then says in a confessional interview. “Kendall tries really hard to be socially conscious and aware of the jobs that she takes, and to really think about how things affect other people. So it weighs really heavy on her heart, and she’s super sensitive to this kind of stuff. Kendall’s intent is never to disrespect or offend anybody.”
Later in her own confessional, Kendall talks about being let down by the people behind the ad.
“When I first got this offer… I mean, it’s a huge company. The people I was following were so iconic and amazing,” she says. “Michael Jackson has done it, Britney Spears has done it, Beyoncé has done it, Pink. The list goes on. So to get something like that was just… It was so exciting.
“I trusted everyone. I trusted the teams. But after I saw the reaction and I read what people had to say about it, I most definitely saw what went wrong. I was so stuck, and I really didn’t know what to do, that I completely shut down.”
The episode touched on the controversy by showing viral tweets that were critical of the ad, like this one:
so many adults had to fuck up in so many unique and equally tone deaf ways to make this awful ad, it's honestly breathtaking https://t.co/j7BdoVw0cC— kevin shark (@boynamedshark) April 4, 2017
It ends with Kendall talking to Kim, about three weeks after the commercial was pulled.
“I just feel really, really bad,” she tells her. “I feel really bad that anyone was ever offended. I feel really bad that this was taken such a wrong way and I genuinely feel like shit. I have no idea how I’m gonna bounce back from it.”
“This is the first time you’ve had a scandal,” Kim reminds her. “This is your first real experience with something like this.”
“Yeah, but it’s a very bad one,” Kendall replies. “The text messages I would get from people, they’d be like, ‘It’s gonna be fine, like, you know everything blows over in, like, a week’s time’ or whatever. And I’m just like, ‘OK, but it’s been, like, three weeks, and it’s not going anywhere.”
“This is just gonna be the biggest lesson learned for you,” Kim consoles. “I know you’re so sensitive and I know you’re the last person to want to hurt someone or be insensitive…it should affect you in a way where you grow from it and you’re like, ‘Okay I’m a better person from it.’ You know? But I just wish that you could see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that it will be OK if you’re just like honest.”
Later, in her confessional, a tear-strewn Kendall says:
“I would never purposely hurt someone ever. “I would, obviously, if I knew this was gonna be the outcome I would have never done something like this. But you don’t know when you’re in the moment, and like, it was the most…like it was…like it was so…like I just felt so fucking stupid. The fact that I would offend other people or hurt other people was definitely not my intent and that’s what got me the most, is that I would ever make anyone else upset.”
Ooft. That closes that chapter, we suppose.
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