Dew Get Some Common Sense!

Warning: Do NOT click on the 2 ad links in this post (if they’re still up) unless you’re willing to be badly offended. By now, you have no doubt seen Tyler The Creator’s latest stunt; an offensive (now-pulled) ad for Mountain Dew. Just how Pepsi (Dew’s parent) ever let the ad be created, let alone aired, is baffling. It does suggest GroupThink & Momentum can obstruct values & common sense, even at richly resourced, normally savvy marketing firms.

Undoubtedly the fever-pitched momentum’ that let the project proceed was ‘dew’ to Tyler being the ’hot’ celeb-of-the-moment’. Just imagine the ad meetings:

  • Let’s hire this new hot Tyler guy- he’s oh-so-controversial
  • That fits our ‘edgy’ Dew brand. Good idea!
  • We’ll be so ‘in’ by having him create the ad.


Tyler Okonma is a 22 yr old commercially successful ‘recording artist’ (rapper) with a history of controversial content & comments: rape fantasies, misogyny, racist language. He doesn’t care what the public thinks -at all. Fader magazine counted 68 times that he uses ‘bitch/bitches’ on his ‘Goblin’ CD (2010). Threats & violence against women are predominant themes in his ‘art’. His Mom must be so proud.

Knowing his pedigree, I’ll bet you’re shocked his new Dew ad offends – for both racism and misogyny. It makes light of a bandaged, crutch-laden sobbing White female, at a police station to identify (assisted by a White male officer) one of 5 suspects for the beating. The suspect lineup includes 4 black males and a goat, who then psychologically intimidates & threatens her if she I.D.’s the assailant. She flees broken & sobbing.

Is this funny? How could any professional team have approved the ad, the script, the casting, the shooting, the rough cut, the final ad? There are many checks & balances in ad development; the process takes months, with signed approvals for everything. One must conclude that Top Management saw & blessed this ad. Leaving us all some lessons.

  1. Dew listen to a little voice in your head saying something’s horribly wrong & someone should say something. YOU ARE that ‘someone’!
  2. Beware leaving an inexperienced, controversy-seeking (possibly mentally unhinged) person in charge, without checks & balances.
  3. Test The Ad! This can be done fast and cheaply- so why not ‘dew’ it?
  4. Just because your firm is successful & has lots of talented people, doesn’t make you immune to blunders.
  5.  If this sort of thing happens, it probably signals a lack of maturity &/or Ethics in Top management.


If a Mid-level manager takes the fall for this ad, I’ll be disappointed. This signals a Top Level problem at Pepsi.

Another example of horribly bad judgement: Hyundai made a Hybrid Car ad touting its 100% water emissions, by showing a woeful-looking man unsuccessfully attempting suicide by running a car in an enclosed garage.

In both cases, the inexcusably poor judgement and standards are Symptoms, not Causes.

Dew learn from it!

Steven Litt