Live for Now (Pepsi)
"Live for Now", also known as "Live for Now Moments Anthem", is a 2017 short film commercial for Pepsi by PepsiCo featuring Kendall Jenner and the song "Lions" by Skip Marley. The advertisement was pulled after receiving online backlash, with Pepsi and Jenner being accused of trivializing Black Lives Matter and police brutality.
|Directed by||Michael Bernard|
|Music by||"Lions" by Skip Marley|
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The Pepsi commercial features American fashion model and television personality Kendall Jenner and the song "Lions" by Skip Marley. The ad begins silently with a person's hand cracking open a Pepsi can and then a shot of a young man playing a cello on a rooftop. The view pans backward on a city and then zooms in on the musician with sweat flying off of his face as he plays. The music soundtrack then begins, with no other sound accompanying the visual footage. The view switches to a protest with mostly young people walking displaying V signs as gestures of peace and carrying signs, including one that says "Join the Conversation" and others with peace symbols.
The view then switches to a young woman in a hijab, who appears to be a professional photographer going through her print photographs with a red marker. Then the view switches to Jenner's character, clad in a silver dress being photographed in a photo shoot, modeling but also showing a growing awareness of the protesters passing nearby. The cellist, shown indoors in a new location, notices the protest as well, then drinks a Pepsi while viewing passing marchers from a balcony. Below the balcony, two young women drink a Pepsi. Then two other women take selfies as the march passes behind them.
The view then switches to the photographer, growing frustrated and then sending her prints flying in a gesture of irritation. She then also notices the protest outside. The view then switches to the protesters, looking cheerful. The photographer looks captivated, grabs her camera, and heads outside toward the protesters. There are images of more young people marching, then the cellist playing music alongside a guitarist as two men dance.
Jenner's character is shown again, still modeling but increasingly focusing on the protest. The cellist passes her, and gestures with his head for her to join them. Jenner responds by pulling off her blond wig to reveal her dark brown hair, cutting to a shot of her hair being blown forward. She hands the wig to a black woman assistant without looking at her, wipes off her dark lipstick, and heads toward the protest.
The camera then shows several police officers standing rigidly watching the protest, then two young protesters, then two men - one in a religious robe - and a woman, several of these characters displaying V signs. Jenner, now in a more casual outfit, passes swiftly through the crowd and advances toward the police officers. She hands a Pepsi can to one of the police officers, as the photographer, looking riveted, snaps multiple photographs of the interaction. The police officer drinks from the can, and the crowd of protesters cheers enthusiastically. The photographer puts aside her camera and hugs a protester in celebration.
Six people are credited with the ad: creative director Pete Kasko, director Michael Bernard, executive producer Ben Freedman, agency creative director Kristin Patrick, agency executive producer Ally Polly, and agency producer Allison Sipes. The Mirror reported that all six key people were white. Jenner had no involvement in the creative process and no advanced knowledge of the marketing vision. She first knew the storyline when she got the script.
The advertisement was pulled by the company one day after its distribution due to criticism. The company released a statement, saying:
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 removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.
The advertisement's creators have been widely criticized on social media and by media outlets for attempting to capitalize on imagery imitating protests in the Black Lives Matter movement, including Taking a Stand in Baton Rouge, the iconic image of a woman, named Iesha Evans, who approached heavily armed police alone and was arrested in a Baton Rouge protest in July 2016. Researchers of branding and marketing have observed the identity politics aspect of the spot depicted by the marching masses, but questioned the credibility of subverting the police towards a "melting pot" model. Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr, remarked, "If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi". Initially, Pepsi stated, "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". According to marketing expert Mike Jackson, part of the problem was that Pepsi did not have a history of promoting social justice causes.
The advertisement was parodied in a YouTube video by comedian Vito Gesualdi, who filmed himself handing out cans of Pepsi at an April 15, 2017, protest in Berkeley, California. Gesualdi stated he was trying to "bridge the divide" in America with cans of Pepsi; however, almost all the cans distributed ended up being used as projectiles by the protesters.
The advertisement was also parodied in a pre-registration trailer for the mobile game Angry Birds Evolution, with a blue bird named Paige and a member of the Bacon Corp's own security force replacing Jenner and the police officer, respectively.
Saturday Night Live made reference to the commercial in a sketch for the April 8, 2017 episode, where the ad's writer and director, played by Beck Bennett, is being chastised for the ad's content by family and friends on the phone just before filming; however, when Jenner (Cecily Strong) discusses the commercial with her friends on the phone, she astutely (albeit unintentionally) explains the true nature of the commercial's plot.
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