by Guest Contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen
I’d noticed these Old Navy ads a few days ago. First because the dark skinned model in the ads, Nina Keita, has been featured in quite a few Old Navy ads recently and second, because her “love interest” in the ad is white.
I guess I’m so accustomed to seeing these types of ads go in a different direction that changing it up a bit immediately transforms me into a deer-in-the-headlights.
Ordinarily, this type of commercial would usually show the group of young white women (with their one black friend) flirting with a groups of white guys (and their one black friend) at a mall or amusement park. The end of the ad would show everyone matched up by race having a great time sharing fountain drinks.
I always thought that this set up put way too much pressure of the black friends. What if they didn’t like each other? What if one of them was gay? Clearly, these were the only two black people in town. How was it that they were only just now meeting one another? Good Lord, what if they were related? Would their white friends care? Did anyone even bother to ask them how they felt about not being given a choice?
I’ve read many a designer complain that if they use a black or other non-white model in an ad or on the runway, then the consumer will pay more attention to the model than the product.
I think this is only partially true. I always pause at a ad with a person of color partly because of the rarity of black models in national campaigns but when I do I always note who is producing the ad. I can’t watch Nina Keita stroll around town in that Old Navy green tube dress without wondering how it would look on my body. On the flip side, models like Jessica Stam, Kate Moss and Gisele appear in so many similar advertisements that I’d be hard pressed to tell any of the campaigns apart.
How exactly does that work in the designer’s favor?