Kendall Jenner is facing the first controversial campaign of her career.
In a Pepsi commercial released earlier this week, Jenner is seen ending a protest by sharing a Pepsi with a police officer as the crowd starts to cheer. The scene has sparked a Twitter backlash, with some threatening to boycott the soft drink company, while others accused the brand of mocking the Black Lives Matter movement.
A source familiar with Jenner’s deal with Pepsi tells ET that the commercial was only slated to air overseas, not in the U.S., but it ended up making the rounds online, with even the 21-year-old model tweeting it out.
The source adds that Jenner is “devastated” by the backlash, as she’s already been called out for her involvement in the ad by several of her Twitter followers. “This is the first controversial campaign she has been involved with,” the source continues. “Even though she had nothing to do with the production and the message of the campaign, she will be blamed for this since she is the face.”
However, the source is confident that Jenner will recover from this, telling ET, “This is not a career breaker for her.”
The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star was paid well into the millions for her work on the commercial, according to the source, and has an ironclad agreement with Pepsi that will not allow her to comment on the controversy without the company’s approval. “The original intent of the commercial was to mirror all the global protests trying to make this world a more equal place for everyone,” the source explains. “But they shouldn’t have had a celebrity face tied to it if they wanted to try and send a strong message like this.”
While the source claims that Jenner did have approval rights in her contract, the source says, “Kendall relied on Pepsi to do their due diligence and trusted that it would tasteful.”
Prior to the release of the ad, Jenner spoke proudly about being part of the commercial in a behind-the-scenes Q&A. “I think it’s an honor to follow some of the most iconic peoples’ footsteps. It’s really cool and I’m really excited about it,” she said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed to be a part of some kind of commercial. To be a part of Pepsi is awesome.”
On Wednesday, Pepsi announced that it is pulling the controversial commercial. “Pepsi was trying to project a global a message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further roll out. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
ET has reached out to Jenner and Pepsi’s rep for further comment.
Reporting by Jennifer Peros.