Does Aflac spot reinforce stereotypes?

Aflac1Let me first say I’m all in favor of casting people of different races and abilities in advertising. But I also think that in doing so, we have to be aware of the subtext—however unintended—we might be making in putting people from certain ethnic groups in certain situations. Take, for instance, the most recent ad for Aflac. In the spot, an African-American man relaxes happily in a hammock as he talks to the duck about how having Aflac has made life easier since he’s “been hurt and missing work.” Problem is, his injury is hard to discern (it took two viewings to realize he has a bandage—not a sweatband—around his head), and the result is he could easily be perceived as having used Aflac to successfully cheat the system. That’s an image that is probably not going to endear the company to the African-American community. (Of course, I could be overreacting. Check out the commercial here, and post your comments.)

—Posted by Aaron Baar