Ashton Kutcher as Raj
PopChips, Burger King, and American Apparel— all got in trouble for allegedly racist advertisements last month.
Racism has a long history in advertising, but it unfortunately is still being written. Even this year’s Super Bowl was marred when Acura asked for a “not too dark” African-American to play a car salesman in an ad.
Whether international or domestic, national or local, brands and agencies continue to put out material in print, television and web ads filled with racism.
With the world of social media acting as a taste-police, many of these campaigns get shut down quickly, never to be seen again.
Salesgenie.com got in trouble a few Super Bowls ago.
Perhaps if it wasn’t a panda bear selling bamboo and maybe not named Ling Ling.
The grammar-challenged dialogue in a heavy Asian voice went like this: “We have no customers. No sales. We going out of business.”
This ad aired during Super Bowl XLII likely making it the most expensive single ad on our list, and it was quickly pulled.
Why does the genie panda not have an Asian voice?
This PSP billboard wasn’t widely published.
This PSP billboard overseas made tech blogs in America go nuts.
The copy read, “White is coming.” Coupled with an image of a white woman viciously holding a shorter black woman — not good.
Sony actually defended the ad for showing contrast and when you look at the material in the rest of the campaign, they seem genuine in saying the larger campaign was not designed to be received as it was in America.
Burger King and Mary J. Blige got blasted for this fried chicken commercial.
Burger King, which has had a history of problematic ads, caused more outrage over stereotypes of African-Americans and fried chicken when it filmed this sport with Mary J. Blige. The company pulled the ad.
When asked about why she did the campaign, Blige claimed it was different than the concept originally pitched.
The Mexican government was upset about this Burger King ad.
Burger King managed to draw complaints from the Mexican government over its ad depicting a short wrestler in a Mexican uniform. Mexico wasn’t just upset about the size of the wrestler, but also the use of the flag, which is a highly protected image in the country.
This liquor store didn’t offend just one minority …
…so it made fun of two.
This series of ads from Chicago-Lake Liquors focused on white people acting like African-American hip-hop stereotypes: slang, grills, fist bumps, etc. Perhaps the most stereotypical moment comes at the beginning of the first ad when the black man says he got Hennessy and bubbly.
Intel released an ad they knew was racist.
If there had been just a single white runner, this ad probably would have been fine.
Instead, the image of six muscular black runners bowing in front of a white man dressed in business attire under the headline “maximize the power of your employees” led to outrage over its parallels to plantations and slavery.
Interestingly enough, Intel actually realized the ad was racist, or as they put it “insensitive and insulting,” and attempted to pull it before it ran, but one publication still printed it.
American Apparel got accused of promoting a new accessory: Mexicans.
Anwar tweeted a link to an ad showing an American Apparel model holding onto a Hispanic farmer, which was picked up by Gawker. The image, which has since been pulled, inspired the Undocumented Apparel series from California artist Julio Salgado.
It seemed odd given how much the company has done for the Latino community.
“Raul is a family friend and the photos turned out great, so we developed them into an ad and put it on our website. The whole controversy seems a bit contrived,” a company spokesperson told The Bay Citizen.
Nivea tried telling blacks to re-civilize themselves.
Nivea’s Re-Civilize yourself showing a well-dressed and clean-shaven African-American male throwing the head of a not-so clean-shaven and afro-donning male didn’t sit well.
The 2011 campaign was axed shortly after it debuted and garnered criticism for being overtly racist.Nivea apologized through its Facebook:
Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent “Re-civilized” NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company.
In India, telling people to lighten their skin is a big issue.
Clean & Dry Intimate Wash introduced this spot this past spring and the outrage began. The country has a caste system, and skin color, particularly the promotion of lighter skin, is a big deal.
One India writer wrote, “It’s almost as though we’re so uncomfortable with the idea of a liberated, independent woman that we feel the need to slip a few insecurities into her psyche”
Unlike most of the products on this list, the following ad still seems to be up.
Not offended yet?