Study: Not everyone hated the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad after all

Dive Brief:

  • Though Pepsi's recent Kendall Jenner-starring ad faced some of the harshest social media backlash for a brand spot in recent memory, research from Morning Consult found 44% of respondents had a more favorable view of Pepsi after watching the ad, according to BuzzFeed. Only 28% of a group of 2,202 surveyed consumers said the ad made them more favorable toward Jenner, however.
  • Breaking down the favorability for Pepsi along ethnic lines produced interesting results, with 75% of Latinos and 51% of blacks reporting feeling more favorable toward the soft drink brand and only 41% of whites reporting the same. Republicans tended to view the ad, which champions inclusion and diversity, more negatively than Democrats did, per Morning Consult. 
  • The initial outrage over the spot, spurred by its apparent tone-deaf appropriation of social movements like Black Lives Matter, caused Pepsi to pull it and release a statement: "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."

Dive Insight:

The Morning Consult report was missing some context around that 44% favorability figure, however, as there was no mention of where it stacks up against industry averages for these types of advertisements.

While 44% favorability sounds like a positive — at least given the Pepsi spot's otherwise dire representation in the media — it still shows over half of viewers having an indifferent if not outwardly negative opinion of the effort. 

However, the ethnic breakdown of responses potentially offers some insight into how different groups responded more positively to the ad's intended message, suggesting that the social and news media backlash didn't line up or accurately reflect the opinion of the general public. The ad was meant to connect with a more diverse, global audience, and Morning Consult's findings imply it might've been more successful in that endeavor than many initially believed. 

Pepsi, however,  is still weathering the fallout for the protest-themed spot, which was made by in-house team Creators League Studio. Criticisms of Pepsi's tone-deafness have caused a number of pundits and analysts to question the deftness and finesse of in-house creative teams more broadly, whether fairly or not. 

Filed Under: Social Media Trends Video
Top image credit: Pepsi Global