Cringe-worthy, insensitive, trivialising an important issue — these were just some of the criticisms that brought down a recent Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner and dealt a body blow to the brand’s image. What was it about this commercial that generated so much discussion? And what lay behind the apparent miscalculation by a brand whose advertising has long been hailed as effective? It is not just a bad script or a wrong reading of prevailing popular sentiments, the root cause is deeper.

It is a classic case of brand ‘over reach’. Marketers tend to over …

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