Advertisement industry’s survival of the fittest depends upon how unique and original the ad campaign idea is. It isn’t easy to whip up something that would attract the viewers’ attention in the sea of products and similar themes with similar messages.
Try to be as neutral as they may, but sometimes ad campaigns are stinking with hints of racism. Especially for those who have already been facing the brunt of racism for a long time.
Let’s have a look at some Ads, companies have released in the market which are counted as seriously offensive ones:
1) “White is Purity” – Nivea
Nivea came under a serious radar of behaving racist when it came up with a slogan of “white is purity”.
India as a country is obsessed with fair skin. Even our matrimonial ads, our textbooks and our own family members teach us that fairer is prettier. A lot of ads by companies like fair and lovely, Nivea, Garnier etc., promote the desire of having a fairer skin.
Bringing out such derogatory ads take the racial tone-deafness of these multinational companies to a whole new level.
2) Dove – Before and After Ad
Dove didn’t think this one through, just like Nivea, when they released this one to the social media. The ad shows a black woman removing her top, and out comes a white woman with clearer brighter fairer skin.
As if this wasn’t enough, they created several versions of this ad by using models of different races. Twitterati ate them alive with the shaming and calling them racist.
The ads were pulled out from the market immediately.
3) Pop chips – Brown faced Ashton Kutcher
Pop chips posted a Youtube ad back in 2012, where a brown-faced Ashton Kutcher was mimicking an Indian character Raj with the Indian accent – it was supposed to be a parody. The ad received severe backlash from the Indian media and it was immediately pulled out of the social platform.
4) “White is Coming” – Sony
Advertising a white play station in Europe, Sony came up with the tagline. The billboard ad was equally offensive featuring a white pissed off woman, dressed in all white, grabbing the face of a black woman, who is bent before the white women, in a submissive position.
After receiving backlash the posters were immediately pulled out of the market.
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5) Taste of Slavery- Intel
Advertising a desktop, Intel released an ad back in 2007. A white man in a business attire is surrounded by bowed down muscular black men. The tagline read “maximize the power of your employees”.
Needless to say, the reference to slavery system was unmistakable in the ad. Later, Intel apologized for its insensitive and insulting ad.
6) Pepsi Skinny Can
Commercial released by Pepsi in 2011, offended people all over the world where they introduced the version of diet Pepsi, using the tagline “taller and sassier”.
It was directly related to body-shaming fat people. And, it also meant skinner is sexier which was offensive in every sense.
7) Re-civilize yourself- Nivea
They truly never learn. Nivea came up with another offensive ad in 2011. Here, a well-dressed clean-shaven American male was shown throwing the head of an afro black male with not so impeccable looking face.
Later, Nivea had apologized about it on Facebook.
8) Pepsi Again?
Pepsi took it up a notch with a racist ad in 2017 where during a #BlackLivesMatter protest, Kendall Jenner was seen distributing the soda cans to U.S. Police. Which was basically trivializing the essence of the protest against U.S. police killing black people.
“The biggest fuck-up of the year”- An ad agency agreed. Indeed.
9) Dunkin Donut’s Charcoal Black Face
Introducing a charcoal donut, Dunkin donut aired a commercial where they used the face of a black woman (awfully stereotypical).
Upon receiving criticism, the CEO still had the audacity to defend the campaign, while later they agreed it was insensitive and derogatory.
10) “Did your wife scare you last night?”
Literally, the Advertisement industry knows no bounds when they are desperate for visibility. In 2011, a married dating service for discreet encounters, Ashley Madison (I am still getting familiar with the idea here) released a poster, with the above tagline. Where they have mocked overweight wives and offered sex to poor deprived men.
The model whose pic was used by the website requested them to not be so derogatory and remove her posters. But, the CEO who I think was an arrogant a-hole responded by saying that the best thing that can happen to the woman that they used her in their ad, which gave her publicity. Can you believe the pomposity?
These few are not the only commercials that have proven to be racist and belittling. Undoubtedly, there is still a long and offensive list out there, of creative companies being utterly insensitive to people’s emotions.
Sometimes, it feels like they do it right on purpose, to just gain extra visibility in the sea of advertisements.
Certainly, stricter norms are required to regulate the autocratic behavior displayed by these giants from time to time.