Tag Archives: advertisement

A Daycare Called Cuba: Iberia Ad More Than “Sexist”

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse, originally published at The Coup Magazine

“It was completely trivial” said a spokeswoman for Iberia Airlines’ new ad. I suppose that should be expected, but it never ceases to amaze me that some people consider the degradation of historically oppressed groups as “trivial,” “fun,” or “just a joke.” Maybe that’s because our society has a history of accepting stereotypes as truths, so veiling them in humor is its feeble attempt to disguise the simple fact that it can’t distinguish between one or the other. It may also be a result of the belief some hold that we are all equals and treated fairly. If this condition of equality is a given, then debasing one group or another is not expected to cause harm, embarrassment, or any real long-term affects. Maybe Spain’s national airline felt that they were engaging in harmless fun, simply teasing their colonial little brother Cuba, but not everyone shared Iberia’s interpretation. Ruben Sanchez, a spokesperson for Facua, a Spanish consumer rights group, found the commercial to be sexist and generally offensive to Cubans. Facua called for the advertisement, which is part of a set of commercials for Iberia’s website, to be pulled. Iberia complied. They apologized, stating that the ad was not meant to offend anyone, and removed it from television on May 16th. But considering that someone had thought up the commercial and allowed it to air in the first place, the damage had already been done.

When I saw the ad for the first time, I thought beyond sexism. Before me was a representation of women of African descent that has somehow lasted for more than three centuries. I saw an animated articulation of the remnants of European colonial dominance over a Caribbean nation and its women. There was so much to take in from such a short clip that I wanted to slow down and think about it in parts. I watched the video again, this time in silence. After muting the volume, I began to mentally catalogue the images I saw. Before the clip commenced, a tableau appeared of a fair-skinned baby in a rocking chair surrounded by two brown-skinned, dark haired, large lipped women frozen mid-dance, holding maracas and wearing bikini tops with Daisy Duke cutoff shorts. Once the video unfolded, it seemed. . . fairly harmless, but three things stood out to me:

1. The color contrast between the baby and his adult playmates.
Both women featured in the commercial have brown skin, one a shade slightly darker than the other, and the men who provide musical accompaniment for the commercial are also varying shades of brown, from light to dark. This contrast is common in tourism advertisements, particularly those in Europe and the United States (with the exception of the recent Bahamas vacation ads). The tourist is almost always white and the “natives” are always brown, black, or yellow. Last time I checked, people of color also go on vacation, but maybe advertising executives don’t want to confuse the consumer audience by featuring them as tourists alongside people who look just like them. Funny enough, this never seems to be a problem in white-on-white ads encouraging people to go to European countries. Continue reading

Sony Handycam ad infantilizes black men?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do you folks think of this ad? (Hat tip to HighJive) I’ve been seeing it on phone booths around New York City, and for some reason it vaguely bothers me. Maybe because it reminds me of John Singleton’s Baby Boy and the idea that African-American men are infantilized by society and never grow up. I’m not sure. What do you think?

Vitamin Water commercial emasculates Asian men

by guest contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Check out this commercial for Glaceau Vitamin Water, featuring David Ortiz and Brian Urlacher playing badminton against two Asian players named Yang and Lau. And guess what? The commercial makes the Asian guys—supposedly the best in the sport—look weak, inept, timid, cowering and “psychologically broken” by their two hulking non-Asian opponents. Ortiz hits the shuttlecock so hard it literally penetrates Lau’s leg. Yeah, subtle. It’s ridiculous and offensive, and it’s no coincidence. The Asian male takes another hit, ridiculed on television for the sake of selling a few more bottles of crappy ass vitamin water.

Remember Glaceau’s racist company phone greeting from a few months back? Follow the link and listen to it here. Again, jokes at the expense of Asians. What’s with the mockery? That’s strike two, Glaceau. That’s racist!

UPDATE: Here’s a story on Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong, two real U.S. badminton stars: Bach and Malaythong up against the odds. The two are training for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

UPDATE 2: Whoa. Donald informs me that Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong are the two Asians guys in the commercial! The #1 U.S. pairs team. So why the hell did they have to call them “Yang” and “Lau”? Is it because those names sound more traditionally “Asian” to the average American TV watcher?

Snarky Stock Photo Analysis…or Recycling Racism for Cool Points?

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

In browsing the Adrants blog, I came across a mini-rant on why stock photography blows.

As a person who uses/dabbles in stock photography, I was intrigued. I follow the original adrants link, and end up at this page.

The first thing that pops up is a random stock image from a random telecom company. The blog owner comments:

Finally,” I thought to myself, “a site that sells chubby black women.”

Hmm…

I browse around the site a bit. This guy appears to bill himself as a snarky asshole with snarky commentary, so his writing is in keeping with the tone of the blog. Reasonably assured that this was meant to be satrical, I continued to read.

2. Hot curly haired black women go moist for wireless broadband routers and mainframes.

Possibly the first and only cliche in history I’ve wanted to bang, curly-haired black women are the preferred marketing tool to sell obscure telecom products and telephone services so long as their skin tone isn’t too dark. She should be dark enough to score that hip diversity dollar, but not so dark as to scare away that heartland racist dollar.

Now I’m mildly disturbed by the crude sex references and apparent race (and hair type) fetish, but he is making a valid point about racial preferences in advertising. I snicker at the fairly inspired Microsoft comparison below it, and keep skimming.

Then I get to:

4.

At least 1 in 3 people chosen at random will necessarily be “African American,” even though only 13% of the US population is black.

When a corporation claims to be diverse, what they really mean is that they hire black people, asians, and a latino every now and then. There is no image more meticulously engineered in this world than that of a corporation’s statement on “diversity.”

For example, the energy company Entergy states on its website that the cornerstone of their corporate culture is:

“respect … for every individual regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or any other cultural factor. “Tolerance” is insufficient in this organization that values differences… ”

Entergy should be commended for having the courage to go beyond simply “tolerating” different races by treating them with respect, because it is assumed that other races are not treated with respect unless a corporation explicitly states that they do on their website. The world needs more companies willing to follow Entergy’s bold leadership by doing more than just tolerating other races.

Again, good points are made here. The random forced diversity is pretty telling (though I must admit, a bit easy for me to forget living in Chocolate City.)
Same thing with the whole “tolerence” bit.

Still, finishing the piece, I was vaguely unsettled. I don’t know what is rubbing me wrong about the piece (mouth-raping comments aside) and its treatment/discussion of race, but something about it disturbs me. I can’t quite put my finger on it…

What also disturbs me is that this piece is intended to be satirical, and it plays up to this by using multiple references to sex (and lube), a bit of fetish, and a bit of stereotype…and yet AdRants is acting like this is the gospel?

From the mouths of AdRants:

Now we have “9 things I learned about the world according to anonymous stock photo models.” From creepy parents to “curly haired black women ‘going moist’ for wireless broadband routers” to “People who sit in cramped cubicles answering customer service calls in drab corporate call centers are overjoyed to help fix your DSL modem” to the over representation of African Americans to stupid laptop poses to “Random-ass white dudes should be placed all over your corporate website for no fucking reason,” this site cuts through all the crap and tells it like it is. Check it our [sic] before you choose your next stock photo.

A brief history of racist imagery in advertising

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

That’s a real turn-of-the-century ad, believe it or not. Hat tip to MultiCultClassics for finding this fascinating slideshow on Slate.com, that traces the history of racist imagery in advertising. I would definitely encourage you to click over to view all the examples they found. From Slate:

Nasty stereotypes have helped move the merchandise for more than a century, and the history of their use and abuse offers a weird and telling glimpse of race relations in this country. Not surprisingly, the earliest instances were the most egregious. This circa-1900 ad for a rodent-control product called Rough on Rats doesn’t just exploit the then-popular urban legend that Chinese people eat rats. It also underscores the intensity of American xenophobia of the day. There were anti-Chinese riots at the time, as well as legislation like the Chinese Exclusion Act, a federal ban on immigration passed in 1882. (It was on the books until 1943.) In the ad, “They must go” refers both to the rodents and the Chinese.

Whiteness in a bottle: Alabaster perfume from Banana Republic

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

There are certain fashion brands that I associate with whiteness. Some, like Abercrombie & Fitch, have aggressively aligned themselves with whiteness. (Their catalogs are basically white supremacist porn.) Others not so much, but because preppy=white in most people’s minds, the association is there. I’m talking about brands like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and J. Crew.

After seeing the ad below, I think I’m gonna have to add Banana Republic to that list. Alabaster is just one of three new fragrances they’re offering this season, but is it a coincidence that it’s the only one that gets the full-page treatment? Hmmm…

I looked up “alabaster” on dictionary.com and here are the definitions:

1. a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
2. Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
3. made of alabaster: an alabaster column.
4. resembling alabaster; smooth and white: her alabaster throat.

I think the message is clear: This fragrance would be HUGE in Asia. ;)

alabaster fragrance banana republic perfume