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Today I read two interesting posts. One in which I was mentioned. Whee hee.
I'll save that for last though.

The first post over on Taki's Magazine comes from Vice Co-Founder Gavin McInnes, called The 10 Most Horribly Racist Ads that Aren't Remotely Racist.?

On the list of course is the The Tyler The Creator Mountain Dew ad.

McInnes points out this whole thing started because one person made a fuss about it. All it took was one person.

Our demographic from now on should be one person: one easily offended person. That should make my job a hell of a lot easier. Just think like a link baiter. Now I can have weekends off.

Now to the other tidbit. I got a mention in a nice post by Stratergist Planningist UX-ist Suzy Mae, after a snarky tweet. Don't let 'em tell you otherwise: it pays to be snarky.


Her post went on to say this was most likely the strategy of the spot. And I don't disagree.


The strategy of the Mountain Dew Ads may have been the old release and pull, but if so they got lucky. By the time the third one dropped, the first two ads in the series barely had any views. We're talking barren wasteland.

If people weren't particularly outraged that day the third one dropped, or if the whole thing hadn't been fabricated, it would have gone largely ignored. When Psy tops a billion views for a horsey dance, 500K impressions is spittle.

So plus one for earned media. I guess? But for strategy? I'm willing to bet they handed Tyler the Creator's content creation company a nice bit of dosh to create content that only a tiny segment watched. Remember, as much as we want to believe Mountain Dew is a niche drink with a niche market, it ain't. It's the fourth best selling soda in the country just after its older bigger brother Pepsi. So you're missing a butt load of eyeballs on your creative content in the hopes outraged citizens will talk about it, instead of just making good ads.

Next time, don't even bother making the content. Just provide grainy screen captures of the supposed content and describe what was so offensive about it to news outlets who will lap it up, as they always do, all while costing you bupkis.

Here's another thing that's important to remind people. This kinda drop and pull shtick is so old by now it's got moth balls. Calvin Klein perfected this schlock twenty years ago.

As a creative person, I don't want to make ads that have been done a gazillion times before. Using the same strategy again and again is just as lazy. Especially this kind. You may generate a spike in the chatter but that's about it.

As for Ms. Mae's ending paragraph:

Have you ever read 1984? Have you ever read Catch-22? These novels couldn't predict our fractured online content consumption, or social media interaction, but they did foresee the sanitizing of reality. The pieces of culture that reveal our destructive, misogynistic, outdated forms of social contact are barred from discussion. Our stories support a fake construct of fairness, while reality continues to exist, in all its cruel and unbalanced forms.

You're darn tootin' we create a fake construct of fairness. We're makin' ads. At the end of the day a brand is a brand, with a voice. We may call what we do storytelling, we may puff it up by saying it's content or a film but it's a commercial plain and simple. It is a construct. A 30 or 60 second or two minute message from a brand urging you subtly or directly to buy its product in an entertaining (if you're lucky) manner. It isn't a show, or a comedy routine. or a video. Or a funny or die skit. It's an ad masquerading as such.

I don't think brands should be acting as Dorian Gray's mirror, unless they're PSA's designed to do so for a good reason. Mostly because few brands have the correct DNA for that to make sense.

While it's stupid for the majority of these types of ads to get banned, I also think it is stupid to make such ads, too. Because they are bereft of ideas, number one, and number two, are just out to generate controversy for controversy's sake. And besides, if they've been designed for just such a reason--knowing they'll get yanked when someone gets outraged--then we shouldn't be outraged when they get yanked. They did their job, no?

One could argue Mountain Dew has always had "extreme" in its brand DNA, but the extreme was in fact extreme sports not extremely bad taste. Lately it's veered more into the latter and I'm not sure that's the best thing for it to own, or indeed how long such behavior can help a brand. Again, we're not talking about Jackass, we're talking about PepsiCo.

And 1984 and Catch-22 didn't predict our fractured content consumption, but Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium Is The Message" did. Right down to graphic designer Quentin Fiore's fragmented collage style layout.

What's old is new again, except not really. It's just old. Sorry.

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Dabitch's picture

If all you need is one complaint, then all you really need is to get the ad in front of someone like the Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins and hope he makes a lengthy post about the offensive he finds in the ad. This is a risky strategy though, that Alpha1 fakery could have taken off in the same way that Ecko tagged air force one, but after that many years online people aren't falling for the too simple fake-outs anymore. I feel like making a list of the ten most non racist "racist" commercials, as some are so clearly cultural misunderstandings like that KFC ad from Australia.

Can I get a job as the one person who gets offended by ads, thereby sending them up the viral path? I'd love to rant against ads that I find sexist or bad... Oh wait, I already do that.