Kendall Jenner has swapped her Pepsi for her own brand of drinks: 818 Tequila.

The 25-year-old model’s latest business venture, a new brand of “best-tasting tequila,” has been welcomed by the Latin American and Mexican-American communities. Criticism? Another white celebrity profiting from an industry and culture she has no connection with.

“There are so many other genuine women-owned tequila businesses to (choose from)” wrote a Twitter user. “Do not support the exploitation of our culture and our resources.”

But supporters say Jenner isn’t the first non-Latin or white celebrity to create a tequila brand, and she is being criticized unfairly. George Clooney (Casamigos), Nick Jonas (Villa One), Dwayne The Rock Johnson (Teremana Tequila), AC / DC (Thunderstruck Tequila), James lebron (Lobos 1707) and others have all entered the tequila game.

What sets Jenner apart from the rest, however, is her dark history – and that of her family – of taking advantage of other cultures and being repeatedly accused of cultural appropriation.

An user tweeted: “& mldr; leaving Kendall to be as deaf as possible is so offensive. Modeling this chic migrant worker searches for her brand of tequila, watch her cry and say she didn’t know later about her. 100th time. ” Another user replied to the original tweet, adding that people should keep the “same energy for all famous men” who also ventured into the business.

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Representatives for Jenner and the 818 Tequila team declined to comment.

The model’s foray into the tequila industry isn’t the first time critics have discussed the cultural and economic implications of celebrity-backed alcohol companies.

Andy Coronado, who co-owns La Gritona Tequila with businesswoman Melly Barajas Cárdenas, says famous tequila companies are “taking resources away from small brands that need access to agave,” the plant from which tequila is made from and takes about seven years to mature. to harvest.

“It’s a commodity and it drives up prices,” he adds. “This leaves the rest of the tequila world trying to & mldr; survive.”

Barajas Cárdenas says that while she is not familiar with Jenner, she believes the celebrities who create their own tequila are more representative of the globalization of the drink.

Kendall Jenner isn't the first non-Latin or white celebrity to start her own brand of tequila.  Casamigos, founded by George Clooney, businessman Rande Gerber and developer Mike Meldman in 2013, was sold in 2017 to a UK manufacturer in an acquisition that valued the US tequila maker at nearly a billion dollars.

“If you say tequila, you immediately think of Mexico,” she said, in an interview conducted in Spanish. “I would love for it to be known around the world to anyone because even if an American makes their own brand and whether you like it or not, Mexico also sees this money because there is no other country. where it can be produced. ”

But the distiller believes there are two types of people who dabble in the tequila industry: one who “really loves Mexico, tequila and our roots,” and the other, who only sees the tequila. Latin American and Mexican-American consumers like nothing but a dollar sign, she says.

The latter is where some people believe celebrities like Jenner reside.

818 Tequila's Kendall Jenner Marketing Gets Cultural Appropriation Backlash

In February, the model announced on Instagram the planned release of 818 Tequila – available in añejo, reposado and blanco – adding that it was “almost 4 years in the making.” Fast forward to May: Jenner celebrated 818’s official release with social media campaign it was not that easy for some.

To promote 818, Jenner moved to “local family farms” in Jalisco, Mexico as a backdrop. She traded in her haute couture dresses for jeans, an oversized button resembling a Mexican shawl and a white tank top. She accessorized with a sombrero and a pair of cowboy boots, and she wore her hair in pigtails.

In addition to the outfit, Jenner rode a horse through the agave fields in the promo video and sat in the back of a van with a broken window covered in a plastic bag, casually stroking a stray dog ​​with one hand, sipping tequila with the other.

Critics started pouring in via Instagram comments, tweets and TikTok videos dissecting what people thought was wrong with his tequila ad. Jenner has disabled comments on this specific post.

Social media users have argued that the way she dresses perpetuates harmful stereotypes. “It’s also the way she dresses like a Mexican”, a twitter user wrote. “That’s wrong and super unpleasant. There were other ways to market. But this one? It’s not that.”

Author Julissa Arce written on twitter: “Why can’t Kendall Jenner just pose as her white daughter to sell Tequila ?! Why does she have to go put on the braids and wear the sombrero.”

The game prompted a lot on social networks to support locally owned and female owned tequila brands, including La Gritona, a brand distilled by Vinos y Licores Azteca also created and owned by Barajas; Casa Dragones by Bertha González; Próspero Tequila by Stella Anguiano; Satryna Tequila by Nitzan Marrun and more.

Coronado, co-owner of La Gritona, adds that since the 818 Tequila backlash began, he has noticed an influx of followers and overwhelming support for La Gritona, which is 100% local women.

He asks, “Why aren’t these people attacking Clooney or The Rock. Why are they going after Kendall? Because she is a woman and because she comes from that family seen as superficial and not taken. seriously. I don’t know what I would think of her tequila, but she can do whatever she wants. “

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`` Customers can really see when an approval is genuine ''

Ali Fazal, vice president of marketing at Grin, a platform dedicated to creating authentic influencer marketing campaigns, says the lack of diversity and inclusion in influencer marketing invites this type of reaction.

“Things like misogyny, racism, cultural appropriation – no one ever liked them,” Fazal says. “It’s just that now we can talk about them more freely, without fear of persecution or fear of reprisal.”

Now consumers feel more empowered to express themselves, he says: “They are very demanding and they are very critical of the brands.”

Fazal attributes the pandemic to consumers’ thirst for authenticity. “People are starting to evolve and get used to this being the norm,” he says. “Customers are really able to see when an endorsement is genuine and feels genuine.”

When it comes to questions of authenticity, many don’t attribute Jenner’s tequila and business intentions. Mike Morales, Tequila Aficionado Media CEO says anything mass-produced or mainstream “doesn’t use authentic methods” of production and mostly takes “shortcuts” in order to lower the cost of production and spend more money. money in marketing.

“For those who want to do something authentic, you need to know up front that you’re up for the long game,” he says, adding that all the celebrities really have it going in this particular industry, it’s their followers and their fans. based.

Even so, Morales thinks Jenner going into the tequila business is a “no-problem.”

But four years after his infamous Pepsi commercial, where the reality TV star was pictured leaving a modeling shoot to join a protest, handing the drink over to a police officer. as an offer of peace, the optics still don’t look good.

Tequila is steeped in Mexican culture and a marker of the country’s identity. When celebrities or non-Latinxes venture into the industry, Barajas Cárdenas says, “You’re selling a little piece of Mexico. & Mldr; We’re not numbers.”

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