Prominent Baltimore civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson has joined a chorus of new TV ad critics this week.
Mckesson on Tuesday weighed in via Twitter on a new Pepsi ad in which reality star and model Kendall Jenner sheds her blond wig, leaves her photoshoot and calms a heated demonstration by offering a cop a can of soda.
The ad, called “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” drew instant criticism for making light of America’s racial divide. It was so poorly received that Pepsi pulled it off the air and apologized. But not before Mckesson gave his verdict on Twitter.
“Pepsi, this ad is trash,” he tweeted.
The commercial appears to be depicting a protest of some kind in which people of all colors and creeds come together, drinking Pepsi while they march and flirt with each other, as if it’s a magic elixir.
Some of the images in the ad evoked a widely distributed photo of a Louisiana nurse and mother, Ieshia Evans, facing down police in Baton Rouge last year during a protest against police brutality.
Mckesson, one of the best known voices for the Black Lives Matter movement, was arrested last July during that Baton Rouge protest and spent 16 hours in jail before he was released. In a second tweet about the Pepsi ad, he brought that up.
“If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would’ve gotten arrested,” he said. “Who knew?”
If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would've gotten arrested. Who knew?
— deray (@deray) April 5, 2017
Mckesson is one of thousands who took to social media to pan the Pepsi ad, calling it cringeworthy, tone deaf, gauche and tasteless. Another was Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whose reaction was similar to Mckesson’s.
“If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” she tweeted.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017