Trying to Be Hip and Edgy, Ads Become Offensive
Madison Avenue is learning a painful lesson: cutting edge advertising can slice both ways.
Some of the biggest names in marketing, including Ford Motor, General Motors, Hyundai Motor, Reebok and PepsiCo, have been forced recently to apologize to consumers who mounted loud public outcries against ads that hinged on subjects like race, rape and suicide.
PepsiCo found itself meeting this week with the Rev. Al Sharpton and the family of Emmet Till — the teenager whose death in Mississippi in 1955 helped energize the civil rights movement — to try to quell multiple controversies involving its Mountain Dew brand.
The article closes with the news (OK, "news") that Al Sharpton wants to find yet more real estate for himself on Shakedown Street:
Mr. Sharpton said he intended to lead a broader conversation with the executives of PepsiCo, other major corporations and the music industry, civil rights groups and the families of Mr. Till and Trayvon Martin. He said he would contact executives at Coca-Cola, Walmart, the record label Cash Money and the rap mogul Russell Simmons, among others, and expected to hold a meeting within the next 30 days.
“I don’t want to shut down black artists, but how do we protect ourselves against depravation and misogyny?” Mr. Sharpton said. “The artists do not understand that you may have a younger following, but you’re dealing with corporate responsibility from older stockholders who are just not going to tolerate that.”
A company that has hired Big Al for his consulting services may avoid some high risk ads but will surely avoid any Sharpton-led protests. And to be fair, the Reverend planted his flag in opposition to misogynistic rap years ago.
FWIW, the niche Sharpton is targeting is already populated by folks such as Paul Porter of Rap Rehab, who was invoilved with the Pepsi imbroglio. But did Porter ever run for President? He did not.