A bunch of people must have thought the now-infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner was a great idea. And apparently not enough of them realized beforehand how tone-deaf it would come across.
“Saturday Night Live” tried to provide a bit of an explanation this week as to how the since-removed ad even got made. In a prerecorded sketch, Beck Bennett plays the ad’s writer and director, described as the man whose “singular vision” is behind the faux-protest soda ad.
He’s on set, receives a call from his sister and excitedly explains this amazing advertisement he came up with. In case you haven’t seen the two-minute long ad that Pepsi removed from YouTube (or read our second-by-second breakdown here), here’s Bennett’s character earnestly explaining it:
“Okay, so, well it’s an homage to the resistance. There’s this huge protest in the street, reminiscent of Black Lives Matter. So everybody’s marching, right, and they get to these police officers and you think it’s going to go bad because there’s a standoff, and then Kendall Jenner walks in and walks up to one of the police officers and she hands him a Pepsi. And that Pepsi brings everyone together. Isn’t that like the best ad ever?”
We don’t get to hear the person on the other end of the call, but the director goes silent. His face goes blank. He listens intently to his sister and then asks, “Sort of tone-deaf?”
“Maybe you just kind of don’t get it,” he says, and asks to speak with someone else.
“No, we’re celebrating these cultures. We’re celebrating black culture,” he tells the person on the other end of the line. The camera cuts to the break-dancers rehearsing. “We’re celebrating Asian culture,” the director says, then looks at the guy with the cello.
“Got it, just kind of using them to sell soda?” Bennett’s character says. “Can you put a neighbor on, a black one?”
The director begins with the Black Lives Matter connection when the neighbor quickly cuts him off. Beckett repeats back, “Don’t even touch it, it’d be insane to touch it? Don’t even show the police?”
“What would you do if you’re in my situation? Just run to my car?”
The director asks for a break during the shoot, but an assistant shouts it’s not possible — Kendall Jenner has arrived and she only has 45 seconds. Then we see Jenner, played by Cecily Strong, on the phone with one of her famous sisters, explaining the ad.
“I stop police from shooting black people by giving them a Pepsi,” she says. “I know, it’s cute, right?”
In case you missed the Pepsi kerfuffle, the soft drink company released its Jenner ad Tuesday. Within 24 hours, after the memes and criticism mounted, they took down the video and issued an apology.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”
The company continued: “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.”
This post has been updated.