Poll: Lack of diversity to blame for Pepsi ad debacle

Asked how Pepsi could have "missed the mark" so badly with its ad starring Kendall Jenner, PRWeek readers pointed the finger at a lack of diversity in marketing.

NEW YORK: How did Pepsi go so far off-course with its widely mocked ad starring model Kendall Jenner as a broker of peace at a tense standoff between police and protesters? PRWeek readers blamed the lack of diversity in the marketing and communications industries for the mess.

The soft-drink company pulled the ad on Wednesday after it was widely decried on social media for co-opting social movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March. The company also apologized to Jenner, saying, "Clearly, we missed the mark."

Asked how the brand could have OK’d the ad, 40% of respondents to a poll on PRWeek US said, "This is what happens when there’s a lack of diversity—and diversity of thought—in marketing departments."

More than 25% picked, "Brands are trying too hard to reach millennials," while 13% said, "A PR agency or corporate communications executive clearly wasn’t involved. They would have squashed it." Eleven percent said, "Employees are too afraid to speak up to prevent bad ideas—or horribly bad ideas, in this case."

More than 6% blamed the fact that it was created in-house without agency help, and more than 4% picked "other."

The poll garnered 115 responses by 1 p.m. EST on Thursday.

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