Before we begin the shade, let me start off by saying I salute y’all for Sun Chips and Ruffles, Naked juice and Gatorade when my body is feeling weary. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, might I make an inquiry about one of your subsidiaries’ idiocy?
This week, Mountain Dew released a commercial developed by rapper Tyler, the Creator, a battered woman, a goat who speaks in "Black talk," and a jailhouse lineup of Black male thugs. And I want to know why.
I’ve read your statement: “We apologize for this video and take full responsibility. We have removed it from all Mountain Dew channels and Tyler is removing it from his channels as well.”
If you were truly taking full responsibility, you wouldn’t have shot this ad in the first place, or at the very least, not allow Tyler, the Creator to have final approval as reported. That’s like allowing Donald Trump to decide the presidency.
Don’t say you were clueless either, because Tyler himself talked to MTV News about the creative process, saying: “Next thing I know I’m at the editing bay putting together the cuts for the commercial I shot with this fu¢%in’ goat and it dawned on me, like, ‘Finally someone looked past the rape or the devil worshipping or the immaturity which is evident in the commercial.’”
He even added, “They actually gave me a chance and let me be 7 years old with their product.”
Why, oh why did anyone over at Mountain Dew think that an ad with a spooked White woman and a lineup of scary-looking Black men and a goat as a way to sell highly caffeinated sugar water was a great idea? Were you all afraid of looking like racists for telling Tyler, the Creator and his band of provocateurs that an advertisement toying with a bunch of racial and gender stereotypes for the hell of it might offend some consumers? I’m no Marcus Graham, but why didn’t y’all just tell him to take this treatment, make a music video out of it and pay him for product placement instead?
And I have to ask: Did the people who signed Odd Future to boost soda actually know who they were beforehand? It sounds like some marketing execs who limited human interaction to the consumer bloc they advertise to just wanted some “cool Black guys” to shill.
I like Frank Ocean as much as any hopeful gay man with dreams of marrying an R&B singer does. His bandmates are another story though. I’m guilty of loving plenty of trifling music, but there’s something about someone yelling, “Kill! Rape! Faggot! Dyke! Poot!” that doesn’t bring pleasure to my eardrums.
In response to the controversy, Odd Future’s management noted that Tyler “absolutely never intended to spark a controversy about race.” The statement added, “It was simply an, again, admittedly absurd story that was never meant to be taken seriously.”
They don’t take anything seriously, hence the problem with allowing them to create a commercial with no idea of the potential consequences to your brand.
After all, Tyler is the person who told Spin magazine: “Talking about rape and cutting bodies up, it just doesn’t interest me anymore. What interests me is making weird hippie music for people to get high to.”
You’ve got to know who you’re getting into business with before you offer them money to represent your products. The same goes for signing Lil Wayne. Emmett Till’s family doesn’t make much of his apology and plans to continue putting pressure on Mountain Dew to drop him as a client. Ergo, you have another headache on the horizon.
Here’s a thought I hope you pass along to your other big corporate buddies: If you have a morality clause, don’t sign most rappers. Just call Wayne Brady. Don’t be edgy if you can’t handle the potential pushback.
Now, send me some damn chips and a case of Naked Juice. I just spent my good deed of the day on y’all. You’re welcome.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where on the surface the shade might make the culprit want to curse, but trust, it comes from a place of concern. Tweet him at @youngsinick.