SNL Hilariously Takes On the Pepsi and O’Reilly Factor Advertising Scandals

Alec Baldwin pulls double duty as Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump

Beck Bennett plays the writer-director of Pepsi's Kendall Jenner spot, who gets a harsh reality check just minutes before filming. - Credit by NBC
Headshot of Jason Lynch

For its first new episode in four weeks, Saturday Night Live deftly tackled the year’s two biggest advertising scandals—Pepsi’s quickly-yanked Kendall Jenner spot and the dozens of advertisers that have pulled out of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor after sexual harassment allegations—in a pair of hilarious sketches.

First, SNL took on the Pepsi ad, with a segment starring Beck Bennett as the man who wrote and directed the spot, which is one of the most reviled ads in recent memory. Minutes before shooting is about to begin, Bennett excitedly talks on the phone with his sister and explains his concept for the ad: “There’s this huge protest on the street, reminiscent of Black Lives Matter…and then Kendall Jenner walks in, and she walks up to one of the police officers and she hands him a Pepsi. And then that Pepsi brings everybody together. Isn’t that, like, the best ad ever?”

What follows is a long silence, as he absorbs to the reaction from his sister, who calls the ad “tone-deaf,” among other things. Bennett’s response: “I think maybe you just kind of don’t get it.” But as he speaks to others and hears similar horrified feedback, reality, and shock, quickly set in: “Got it. I’m just kind of using them? To sell soda?”

Panicking, Bennett asks for time to do a “quick rewrite” but is told that is not possible, as Jenner is already being called to set. The model, played by Cecily Strong, is having her own phone conversation about the ad: “I stop the police from shooting black people by handing them a Pepsi. I know, it’s cute, right?”

The SNL segment ends with the Pepsi logo and the slogan: “Live and Learn,” which tweaks the “Live For Now” slogan in the real Jenner ad. After initially defending the ad, Pepsi pulled the spot on Thursday, apologizing and saying that it “missed the mark.”

An hour into the show, Saturday Night Live featured the return of Alec Baldwin, who had once again played President Trump in the show’s cold open. This time, he was impersonating Bill O’Reilly, as he hosted the latest edition of The O’Reilly Factor.

The segment was prompted by the news that more than 50 advertisers have pulled their ads from The O’Reilly Factor in response to a New York Times investigation detailing five harassment cases against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. According to the report, O’Reilly and the company he works for paid out $13 million to settle the cases.

As Baldwin’s O’Reilly explains, “Apparently several women have come forward and accused me of offering them exciting opportunities here at Fox News.”

At first, the faux O’Reilly fruitlessly attempts to interact on-air with female Fox News correspondents, who either no longer work for the company (“Did she get the check?”) or are reporting “live, via satellite, from exactly 500 yards away” so as not to be near him.

Then, he addresses the scandal head-on: “As you know, 60 of our sponsors have pulled their ads from the program. No word as to why yet. We thank the following sponsors for sticking with us.” The show then spotlights the three remaining sponsors: Dog Cocaine (“Turns out you can teach a dog new tricks!”), Eliquis (“It’s Ciailis for horses!”) and recent flop movie Chips (“Oops!”)

O’Reilly then brings on one of his biggest defenders, “a man who is unimpeachable on all female issues”: Trump—who is also played by Baldwin. (Baldwin had pre-taped his Trump portion of the sketch.)

Trump admitted that he wasn’t entirely familiar with the details of O’Reilly’s scandal. “I’m more familiar with this case than I am with, say, healthcare, but I didn’t really look into it much, no. I was too busy being super-Presidential by bombing a bunch of shit.”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.