Looking for a creative director to help promote their Mountain Dew drink, PepsiCo plumped for Odd Future figurehead Tyler, The Creator. Cue controversy.
Tyler devised a string of adverts for the company’s Green Label Sound campaign, one of which featured a battered white woman picking out an assailant from an all-black line-up. Following a sizeably backlash, PepsiCo have now nixed the advert, and have apologised in a statement after claiming to have “understood how the ad could be offensive”. According to PepsiCo: “We apologize for this video and take full responsibility. We have removed it from all Mountain Dew channels and Tyler is removing it from all his channels as well”.
As promised, the 60-second clip has been pulled from both the Mountain Dew site and Odd Future’s YouTube channel, but the story arc goes something like this. A bruised white woman on crutches and wearing a neck brace is asked to pick out her attacker from a line-up featuring black Odd Future affiliates and Tyler’s Felicia The Goat character. The goat – who, as documented in an earlier ad in the series, was the assailant all along – then threatens the lady with the line “Ya better not snitch on a playa”. The woman subsequently picks out one of the other members of the line-up, saying, “It’s the one with the doo-rag”.
The advert has caused serious consternation in a number of quarters. Most vocal has been African-American author Dr. Boyce Watkins, wh has lambasted the clip as “arguably the most racist commercial in history”, bemoaning in his blog the fact that every suspect is the sort of “ratchety negro” stereotype typically found in “any hip-hop minstrel show”. Perez Hilton was also among the bloggers to call out Tyler for sexism and racial insensitivity.
Odd Future’s manager has also weighed in on the fuss, writing a long blog post in defence of Tyler. His piece emphasis the “irony” inherent in Tyler’s work, stresses that the ad is part of an ongoing storyline of ads and has been wrenched out of context, and notes that the line-up was a casual collection of Tyler associates available on the day. Tyler has also stressed the second of those points, tweeting “IDIOTS THE LADY IN THE NEW MOUNTAIN DEW COMMERCIAL IS THE WAITRESS THAT GOT ATTACK RETARD”. He has also offered to sit down and talk with Watkins in person.
It’s not the first time Mountain Dew has found itself in hot soda over its ties with a rapper. The company was recently chastised for its endorsement deal with Lil Wayne following his off-colour lyrics about murdered civil rights icon Emmett Till. [via Billboard]