Reebok International Ltd., the second-largest U.S. maker of athletic shoes, has withdrawn a commercial featuring rapper 50 Cent from British television after viewers complained that it glamorized guns.
More than 50 TV viewers complained that the commercial "glamorizes and perhaps glorifies gun culture," Advertising Standards Authority spokeswoman Donna Mitchell said Thursday. In the commercial, 50 Cent counts from one to nine in reference to having been shot nine times.
Reebok's "I Am What I Am" campaign, seen worldwide, is "intended to be a positive and empowering celebration of this right of freedom of self-expression, individuality and authenticity," Reebok spokeswoman Denise Kaigler said. Still, the 50 Cent ad was pulled last week after "a small number of the general public found it offensive."
50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, appears alongside rapper Jay-Z, basketball player Allen Iverson, tennis champion Andy Roddick and "Charlie's Angels" film star Lucy Liu in the campaign. The commercial was made by U.S. agency McGarryBowen for Canton, Mass.-based Reebok.
50 Cent's latest album, "Massacre," was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for U.S. album sales last week, according to the Billboard website. The album is distributed by Vivendi Universal's Interscope Records.