News: T.I.'s Akoo Clothing Billboard Stirs Controversy, Suggests Sexual Message [Video]

Monday, Mar 1, 2010 1:30PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

A sexually suggestive billboard for T.I.'s Akoo clothing company has reportedly drawn controversy in the city of Newark, New Jersey.

According to reports, the billboard is located in the heart of Newark.

T.I.'s clothing line AKOO JEANS is stirring up a lot of lip service. This billboard is smack dab in the middle of one of Newark, New Jersey's busiest intersections. The people of New Jersey thinks the advertisement is sending a risque and inappropriate message to it's younger citizens. The billboard features a woman kneeling in from on a man with his pants unbuckled. I understand the point of view but what's the difference when the music videos are borderline soft porn and they know all the words to 'I Invented Sex' from ages 9-16? I'm just sayin'. (Fly Style Life)

School and government officials have also weighed in on the situation.

"What's the message here? 'If I wear these clothes more women will want to have sex with me,' " said James Sawhill, a Rutgers-Newark marketing professor. Maybe, maybe not. The larger question, however, is: Why Newark? Would it be anywhere else? Millburn, Livingston, Bernardsville? City Council President Mildred Crump is fed up with her city being a doormat for degradation. "I'm so sick of people seeing Newark as a place where they can do whatever they want," she said. "They think they can put it in a black community and nobody is going to say or do anything." (The Star-Ledger)

However, CBS Outdoor billboard company executive Jodi Senese felt differently about the advertisement.

"It was a sexy, racy fashion ad, as they so often are," said Jodi Senese, executive vice president of marketing. There are more-explicit ads CBS will not post, she said, but this one didn't rise to that level. AKOO, whose clothing is distributed by Rp55 in Virginia Beach, Va., has not responded to requests for comment. The billboard raises another important question: Does demeaning women also sell? Sawhill says advertising is designed to impart information and conjure up emotion. It can be laughter, fear, concern. In this case, it's something primal. Or you could come up with a good caption contest. However, the billboard contains no informational content. It's strictly emotional, and Sawhill says ads like this are far too common in minority communities. (The Star-Ledger)

The company has also issued a statement regarding the matter.

"The AKOO brand has always aimed to inspire individualism and creativity. Our advertising campaign was not created to offend or insult anyone but to simply provoke dialogue and thought regarding male/female sexuality within urban culture. We hope that as more of the campaign is debuted, people will see the multifaceted personality of AKOO." (Rap Radar)

Last year, Tip spoke on his Akoo brand's 2008 launch.

"We're actually fortunate enough to translate that style into my own clothing line that I released last year," Tip told television personality Chelsea Lately. "Akoo, A King Of One's Self." The clothing line hit the market in October 2008 and was publicized with videos of T.I. during an Akoo video shoot prior to its release circulating online. (Chelsea Lately)

Check out footage of the Akoo controversy below:

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