Mountain Dew Racism

Two for Tuesday: Racism and Celebrity Endorsements Gone Wrong

If the Donald Sterling scandal has done anything, it’s once again exposed that brands who associate with controversial public figures, especially when the controversy involves racism, are flirting with disaster. When TMZ released the recording of Sterling making 15-minutes worth of racist banter, several brands cut their ties with the team he owns. Sterling, who was banned from the NBA for life, still owns the LA Clippers for now, but the owners have not yet voted on his fate.

This Two for Tuesday, we’re giving you a couple more examples of racism risking brand relationships.

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne’s Mountain Dew sponsorship was a high-profile campaign that quickly came to an end after he released a song containing offensive lyrics referencing civil rights icon Emmett Till. The rapper apologized to the Till family for his statements, but Pepsi still dropped him following the backlash.


Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator’s underground raps are infamous for their misogynistic content and yet surprisingly it was not his lyrics that got him dropped from the Mountain Dew brand. Rather, the campaign, directed by Tyler, featured a goat he voiced included in a police lineup of African American men to find the individual responsible for attacking a white woman. The video was denounced as racist and quickly removed from circulation. He apologized, saying the video was meant to be an absurd story and not taken seriously.

While the rapper himself was not dropped, it’s interesting to note that sometimes areas completely within an advertiser’s control can fall prey to controversy surrounding a celebrity endorser.

Cover Photo Source: Darios /

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Kaz is a Junior Executive at SJG. He earned BAs in English Writing and Business Marketing at Illinois Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing an MA in Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin. Outside the office, Kaz consumes gobs of media including but not limited to books, magazines, music, movies and television.[/author_info] [/author]