On March 20th, Mountain Dew, the popular brand of soda owned by PepsiCo launched a three-part series of commercials featuring “Felicia the Goat.” Felicia, the angry goat character and concept, was crafted by Tyler, the Creator, frontman of rap collective Odd Future.

The final ad in the trilogy, posted on Odd Future’s website on the 24th of April, sparked controversy. On May 1st, scholar and writer Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote an article that quickly spread through social channels, which argues that the ad was the “most racist commercial in history.”

Suddenly, the media was abuzz with conversation about the ad’s purported racist and misogynistic overtones. Mountain Dew apologized for the video and took it down from its Youtube channels and had Tyler remove it as well.

In online blogs and the media, the allegations of racism threatened to become a brand crisis for Mountain Dew. But what about the consumer voice? Did this advertising campaign backfire, spelling disaster for Mountain Dew’s brand affinity among consumers?

Brand Affinity

Using our social media analytics platform, ForSight, we analyzed over 5,600 relevant tweets about the Mountain Dew brand from three months before the campaign until June 2013, about a month after the campaign, to analyze consumer opinion about the Mountain Dew brand.

Overall, 63% of the social conversation surrounding Mountain Dew from mid-December 2012 until June is negative, mainly with consumers complaining about the product itself.

Mountain Dew Media Story1

Taking a closer look at consumer opinion around the time of the campaign, we used ForSight to focus on the social conversation from the 28th of April, four days after the third ad launched, to the 4th of May, four days after Dr. Boyce Watkins’ published his article online.

Interestingly enough, during this period, 51% of the brand conversation praised or quoted several of the brand’s campaigns, including “Felicia the Goat.” On May 1st, 99% of the brand conversation on Twitter was positive, with 77% of the brand conversation praising or quoting ad campaigns.

Campaign Analysis

In addition to measuring brand affinity, we used ForSight to specifically analyze reactions and posts about the ad campaign from the time the first ad launched (March 20th) through June 2013. Analyzing more than 5,000 posts and excluding general shares of news articles, 60% of the overall conversation was positive. Consumer opinion expressed on social media contrasts with the overall media portrayal of the commercial as racist and offensive.

During the week that the third commercial went up, before Dr. Watkins posted his article, 94% of the conversation surrounding Mountain Dew and Tyler, the Creator’s ad campaign was positive.

The following week, when Dr. Watkins’ article spread quickly on the web, 76% of the nearly 3,000 relevant posts of the social conversation surrounding the ad campaign were positive. 51% of that represented consumers who felt that people were overreacting to the ad and expressed disappointment that the ad was pulled.

Mountain Dew Media Story Tweets

Looking at Mountain Dew’s overall brand perception, the majority of the conversation was negative, both before and after the campaign. In this way, the campaign didn’t significantly change the social conversation and social brand affinity surrounding Mountain Dew. Even though the Mountain Dew spot was bashed by the media and subsequently pulled, Mountain Dew’s online brand reputation wasn’t severely harmed.

Through deeper analysis, we found that the media expressed a different opinion than that of Mountain Dew’s consumers.

The next time you find your brand in the midst of a PR crisis, make sure you have the right toolset in place to measure the consumer sentiment instead of making decisions based solely on the media story. Learn more about measuring brand affinity by downloading our complementary study.