Could The Akon Controversy Lead To More Corporate-Sponsor Hang-Ups?

Brian Raftery | May 10, 2007 10:30 am

As we noted earlier this week, Akon was dropped by Verizon Wireless–the company that had been sponsoring his tour with Gwen Stefani and selling his music online–due to a video in which the R&B singer stage-humped an underage girl. Today’s New York Times examines the fallout from the decision, noting that artists such as Pete Wentz and Keith Urban have remained with the company, despite personal-life controversies:

The move by Verizon has sent a chill through the ranks of touring pop artists and agents, who are left scratching their heads over their vulnerability to such penalties…

“Artists that are sponsored by companies are probably getting some feedback to watch their behavior,” said William Chipps, a senior editor of the IEG Sponsorship Report. “I think, nowadays, most artists are savvy enough to realize that their actions have consequences. If you’re working with a sponsor, bad behavior could jeopardize that relationship.”

As the Times notes, most corporations insist on contractual “moral clauses” before signing an artist; they also try to familiarize themselves with his or her work, which leads us to wonder how Verizon could be surprised that a guy who sings “I Wanna Fuck You” might be a bit of a horndog. Meanwhile, several right-wing blog commenters (and at least one TV host) have taken to calling this barely rapping “rapper” as “Acorn,” which is either a semi-funny send-up or a testament to just how little research they’re doing. Verizon Drops Pop Singer From Ads [NYT]