No one could blame PepsiCo for instituting a “no using rappers to promote Mountain Dew” corporate policy. It dropped Lil Wayne due to a controversial rap lyric that made light of the beating death of Emmitt Till. An online ad directed by rapper Tyler The Creator immediately hit a raw nerve with viewers.
The ad was part of a campaign that included an obnoxious goat, who attacked a waitress in a previous commercial. In the follow up ad, the waitress is asked to pick her attacker out of a police lineup. All the men in the lineup are African-American, and the goat uses street slang, even telling her at one point “Snitches get stitches.”
Critics accused the ad of promoting violence against women and perpetuating racial stereotypes. Syracuse University Professor and activist Dr. Boyce Watkins called it “arguably the most racist commercial in history.” PepsiCop pulled the ad and has no plans to use it again.
Tyler the Creator spoke to Billboard about the controversy. The Odd Future rapper said he and Watkins have been discussing the matter online. The professor has softened his initial stance after listening to some of Tyler’s music, but still thinks the ad was in poor taste.
“When it comes to that ad with all the stereotypes that were being presented to the American public, who made the ad doesn’t change what the public sees,” Watkins said. “I still feel the ad is not OK.”
The rapper and director appeared to be going for the same humor vibe in his Adult Swim show Loiter Squad. He told Billboard the genesis of this campaign was him wanting to use a talking animal. Tyler also says the goat is “here to stay.” Since his career as a Mountain Dew pitch animal is over, maybe a spot on Adult Swim somewhere?