Kendall Jenner And Pepsi
Many were left scratching their heads when Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad starring reality star Kendall Jenner took over the Twittersphere.
The protest-themed ad, titled “Live For Now Moments Anthem”, saw the “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” star ditch a photoshoot to join an ongoing street protest. The model-of-the-moment is then seen giving a police officer a can of Pepsi as a supposed peace offering, in a treatment that channels an iconic image taken during a 1960s Vietnam War protest.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize,” Pepsi said, addressing the ad in a statement. “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.”
Pepsi pulled the ad after overwhelming backlash inundated social media.
Ashton Kutcher And PopChips
Several were left offended when Ashton Kutcher sported brown-face in his 2012 commercial for PopChips.
The ad, which featured Kutcher impersonating a Bollywood producer who was “looking for the most delicious thing on the planet,” had many criticizing the company, accusing it of whitewashing and releasing a racist ad.
PopChips pulled the Bollywood-inspired spot after much of the controversy had failed to die down.
Three years later, the campaign was still making headlines. Indian-American comedian Aziz Ansari featured the ad in his Netflix series “Master of None” as part of a montage of racist caricatures of Indian culture.
Dakota Fanning And Marc Jacobs
Dakota Fanning's appearance in Marc Jacobs’ perfume ad was deemed too sexual in 2013. The 17-year-old was photographed holding a large version of the flower-topped perfume bottle between her legs, prompting many, including the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority, to declare it overtly “sexual” forcing the label to pull the ad.
Fanning later defended the photographs in an interview with Glamour magazine, saying, 'Yeah, I was [surprised]! If you want to read something into a perfume bottle, then I guess you can.”
She added, “but it’s also like, Why are you making it about that, you creep? I love Marc and trust him, and we just laughed about it.”
Pierce Brosnan And Pan Bahar
The former 007 caused a stir in India in 2016 when he starred in ads for Pan Bahar — a product often classified as a breath freshener or tooth whitener — that promoted the intake of the cancer-causing areca nut.
Brosnan was supposedly unaware that the Dehli government had specifically requested of stars not to appear in the company’s ads, and shortly after their release, addressed the controversy with a statement. “As a man who has spent decades championing women’s healthcare and environmental protection, I was distressed to learn of Pan Bahar’s unauthorized and deceptive use of my image to endorse their range of pan masala products,” Brosnan said. “I would never have entered into an agreement to promote a product in India that is dangerous to one’s health.”
Rachael Ray And Dunkin’ Donuts
Rachael Ray’s appearance in Dunkin’ Donuts’ 2008 ad campaign that promoted their iced lattes drew criticism thanks to the cooking star’s questionable wardrobe. Many, including conservative blogger and commentator Michelle Malkin, were upset when Ray sported a white and black scarf that looked similar to a keffiyeh — “the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,” Malkin shared.
Fearing a mass boycott of the brand, the coffee and donut giant pulled the ad shortly after backlash erupted.
Ray also fielded criticism from fellow chef and television star, Anthony Bourdain, who claimed she was acting irresponsibly in her endorsement of the chain. “She’s hugely influential, particularly with children,” he told Outside magazine. “And she’s endorsing Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s like endorsing crack for kids.”
Scarlett Johansson And SodaStream
Scarlett Johansson was caught in the middle of political crossfire when her Super Bowl ad for SodaStream raised a conflict in her relationship with Oxfam International.
With Oxfam standing firm on its position of being “opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law,” Johansson’s link to the soda-making company, which operates a production facility in the West Bank, was in direct odds with the charity’s ideals. “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights,” the star wrote in a statement.
Johansson ended her partnership with Oxfam soon after the ad went public.
Nicole Kidman And Etihad Airways
Uproar occurred when actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Women Nicole Kidman starred in Etihad Airways’ advertisements. While the ads themselves were sophisticated in nature, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants lashed out against the star for supporting an airline that “imposes abusive labour practices on its female employees.”
Alec Baldwin And Capital One
Alec Baldwin and his progressive political ways were put into question when the actor starred in commercials for Capital One, which had been recipients of a controversial $3.5 billion U.S. government bailout.
Baldwin agreed with his critics, and shortly after being called out for partnering with the bank, assured them that he “donated all of [his] fee from Capital One 2 arts charities. They have been gr8 partners in my support of the arts.” Baldwin, however, continued his relationship with the institution for years thereafter.
Jessica Alba And The ‘Declare Yourself’ Campaign
Jessica Alba’s 2009 ‘Declare Yourself’ campaign drew criticism due to its bondage-inspired theme. The ad, which was meant to promote voting among youth, went on to shock rather than raise awareness. Alba, however, felt differently on the matter and defended the ad when it caused controversy online. “I think it is important for young people to be aware of the need we have in this country to get them more active politically,” Alba said. “People respond to things that are shocking.”