Kendall Jenner has had two major debacles in April: the Pepsi commercial and the Fyre Festival. Here’s why Kendall may want to hire a new branding consultant.
Many eyebrows are raised with the continuous relevance of the Kardashians, and how they are able to stretch their 15 minutes of fame into such a lucrative venture. However, one of the members of the family appears to be losing her touch.
Kendall Jenner has had two major debacles in April. First, she appeared in a Pepsi commercial that the company was forced to pull off the air after an intense social media backlash. Now, she is being attacked on social media again for promoting the disastrous Fyre Festival that was to be held in the Bahamas.
For a family whose success can be credited to their shrewd understanding of the power of social media, Kendall’s recent social media fumbles call into question the power of her celebrity brand. As the American comedian and actor Trevor Moore said on Twitter:
1st Pepsi + now Fyre festival… it's sounds insane, but I dont think Kendall Jenner is even good at doing whatever it is the Kardasians do.
— Trevor Moore (@itrevormoore) April 28, 2017
Kendall Jenner appeared in a Pepsi ad that aired on April 4, where she played a model who ditched a photoshoot to join a protest march. She then made her way to a police officer handing him a can of Pepsi, to the cheering of the protestors. Here’s the full version of the Pepsi commercial:
The Pepsi ad was criticized for being “tone-deaf,” seeming to imply that a can of soda can solve America’s police brutality problem. Pepsi’s mistake was a classic case of an overreaching brand, trying to be something that it clearly is not in the consumers’ minds. It was an attempt to jump into the pro-diversity and protest bandwagon, yet nothing about Pepsi connected it to those issues. Pepsi later apologized and issued 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.”
Unfortunately for Kendall, she had to be the star of this commercial. The Kardashians cultivated their brand by aligning themselves with successful businesses, and the Pepsi commercial should have been a slam dunk. Typically, stars of commercials are provided with a creative concept, if not the actual script, to help them make the decision whether to appear in the ad or not. It was clearly a misstep by her team, who failed to see whether this ad would resonate with the millennials that it was trying to attract.
Kendall is again finding herself in the middle of a firestorm with the Fyre Festival disaster, which was billed as the most luxurious music festival ever. Set on the private island of Fyre Cay in the Bahamas, organizers such as rap star Ja Rule and his tech partner Billy McFarland promised “two transformative weekends” during this ultra-exclusive party.
The Fyre Festival was promoted heavily through the use of celebrity influencers such as Kendall Jenner. Kendall was one of the models who hyped up the live music festival in her social media feed. She participated in a promotional video, along with her model friends and fellow Instagram favorites such as Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin, among others:
Festival goers shelled out anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000 per ticket (and up to $250,000 for large party VIP packages). They were promised a luxury festival experience on a tropical island with private beaches, high-end sleeping accommodations, and celebrity chef prepared meals. Live musical acts were to include Blink 182, Rae Sremmund, Skepta, Desiigner, Tyga, Pusha T, among others.
Participants started arriving on the island on April 28. Instead of a “luxury experience,” festival goers found a “Hunger Games” type of event marred by chaos and disorganization. The promised villas turned out to be nothing but disaster relief tents. The gourmet food turned out to be cheese sandwiches.
So Fyre Fest is a complete disaster. Mass chaos. No organization. No one knows where to go. There are no villas, just a disaster tent city. pic.twitter.com/1lSWtnk7cA
— William Needham Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 27, 2017
— Rain Man (@omgRainMan) April 28, 2017
Ja Rule has apologized for the fiasco on Twitter, insisting that it was not a scam.
Of her model buddies, Kendall is the one receiving the biggest backlash from the Fyre Festival fiasco. In her now-deleted Instagram posts, she promoted the Fyre Festival by announcing that some of the musical line-ups come from brother-in-law Kanye West’s record label: “So hyped to announce my G.O.O.D. Music Family as the first headliners.” Kendall typically earns around $300,000 to do a single post for a brand on her Instagram account. The news editor of Vice.com tweeted that Kendall got paid $250,000 to promote the festival.
The Fyre Festival debacle is just the latest misstep for this young Kardashian member. While Kendall has nothing to do with the poor organization and execution of the festival, Twitter was abuzz with posts blaming the young model.
Kendall has removed any mention of the festival from her social feeds, which some Twitter users took note of:
Debacles like these pose a risk to the credibility of the celebrity endorser. However, it remains to be seen whether both the Pepsi and Fyre Festival disasters will affect the marketability of Kendall. After all, her mom Kris Jenner, recognized as the “branding mastermind” who has steered her family to extend their 15-minutes of fame, is extremely savvy in spotting opportunities and potential of her family.
In the meantime, Kendall could take a lesson from her sister Kim Kardashian, who discussed her brand and her audience as:
“My skill and my talent is marketing. You don’t just show up – there’s a lot of work in building a brand. I’m involved in every last step, whether it’s designing ad campaigns or saying we should launch my product here, not there.”