The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.
Effen Vodka is caught up in a controversy involving 50 Cent that this week led to some Cincinnati outlets boycotting the brand. As reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, it started when the rapper "accused an airport janitor of being on drugs because he wouldn't respond to him in a video posted Sunday on Instagram." The video can still be found on YouTube, below. Here's the problem: The man targeted in the video has a social anxiety disorder and a hearing impairment, people who know him told the Enquirer.
The backlash resulted in a few Cincinnati retailers pulling Effen from their shelves. Also yanking it was a popular bar downtown called Holy Grail, the newspaper reported. On Tuesday, 50 Cent offered this apology, according to the Enquirer: "While the incident at the airport resulted from an unfortunate misunderstanding, I am truly sorry for offending the young man. It was certainly not my intent to insult him or the disability community, which is a source of great strength in America. I have apologized personally to him and his family."
Beam Suntory, which owns Effen, stated: "As a brand that considers social responsibility the highest of priorities, Effen Vodka does not condone the recent behavior of 50 Cent. We have expressed to him our profound disappointment for his actions, which are in no way representative of the brand's values."
Toyota is bringing back its popular Mas Que Un Auto ("More than a Car") campaign that lets drivers order personalized badges for their vehicles. Customers can order the 3-D engraved nameplates at www.masqueunauto.com. The program targets Hispanic consumers, playing off the insight that many Hispanics like to give their cars superpersonal monikers. "Latinos have shown time and again their loyalty for the Toyota brand, and we want to help them immortalize their vehicles and thank them for welcoming us into their families," said Jack Hollis, group VP of marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. The agency is Conill.