Racism, Advertising and the Selling of Soda

Late this week Mountain Dew launched a video created by Tyler, the Creator, leader of the hip-hop group Odd Future. The ad featured a badly beaten older white woman viewing a police line up of African-American men and a goat who threatens the woman to keep quiet lest he “do [her] up.” The spot was thoroughly covered by media outlets, who nearly universally charged Pepsico with racism and misogyny. Dr. Boyce Watkins on the website YourBlackWorld.net, called the ad “arguably the most racist commercial in history.” The ad was immediately scrubbed from the Internet, presumably by Pepsico’s lawyers. The clip above, courtesy of NBC News, describes the ad and the subsequent fallout. You can see the ad itself below, although we apologize for its poor quality.

This ad seems so patently wrong that discussion of it seems unnecessary. Still, one has to marvel that no one at Pepsico questioned it before it was launched––some reports claim that it was to air on the Internet only. The intentional edginess of this ad seems completely in line with others we’ve covered, including the Ford India ad in which bound and gagged Kardashian sisters were shown in the trunk of a Ford, and most recently the Hyundai “Pipe Job” ad which offered an apparent suicide attempt to explain that one of the carmaker’s SUVs emits only water vapor. Both of these cases were featured in NBC’s clip.

What can be said about this seemingly reckless approach to creativity?

Thanks to reader Heidi Woodard for the tip.

Sources: NCBNews.com, LATimes.com, Pepsico

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