It's been almost three years since the infamous racist backlash to the Cheerios commercial with the interracial family, and brands are still getting heat when they broadcast images of diversity. But these days, the brands always seem ready for the haters—and as often as not, they use their vitriol against them.
Ad industry players believe that agencies need to make safe spaces for serious discussions about race and racism within their organizations—outside of diversity training—where employees feel they can address harmful issues. Why?
A Thai company has apologized for producing an ad for a skin-whitening product that featured a woman in blackface and suggested people with dark skin are losers.
Here's a pretty intense outdoor campaign running in Brazil, where a civil rights group called Criola is finding racist tweets online, using geotagging data to determine the location of the offenders, and printing the tweets (with faces blurred) on billboards near their homes.
The official drink of the Washington Redskins … and Dave & Buster's? College Humor created this fake ad a little while back for Diet Racism—the drink that has all the sweet ignorance of regular racism but with none of the guilt or self-awareness. It's the drink of choice for people who don't realize that the phrase "I'm not racist, but …" doesn't magically make whatever comes after it less racist.
Racism doesn't just manifest in overt statements and gestures. It can also take shape in more subtle ways—and still have devastating effects.
Update: That's it for the name "Washington Redskins," at least as far as legally protected trademark status goes. The appeals board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has stripped the NFL team of six trademarks. So if you make a living printing and selling your own Redskins hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and giant foam fingers, today is your lucky day.
Sadly, there's still a Nazi presence in Germany. Recently, an organization named Laut Gegen Nazis, or Loud Against Nazis, decided to combat the hate with lots of love—or rather, lots of likes. On International Holocaust Memorial Day, the group encouraged a diverse group of Germans (recruited by ad agency Jung Von Matt/Elbe) to like the NDP (the country's neo-Nazi party) on Facebook and then swarm the page with positive, anti-racist messages like "For a colorful Germany." According to the case study below, more than 100,000 protesters participated in the "Like Attack," and the ensuing coverage generated some 7 million media impressions. While it's a little unfortunate that participants had to take an action that, on its face, expressed enthusiasm for an awful political presence, the irony is obvious enough to anyone with a brain, and makes for a relatively small evil as a means for raising broader awareness of the issue. Plus, there's the rich history in social movements of loving your enemies instead of hating them, including the work of revolutionary giants like Martin Luther King Jr.—even if the "Like Attack" doesn't have quite as much depth as some of his thoughts on the subject. Credits below.
After being called racist for portraying Westerners as big-nosed blond men who aren't afraid of hugs, Japan's All Nippon Airways has promised to edit the offending scene out of its commercial.