Well-Crafted PSA Shows How Subtle Racism Makes People ‘Feel Like Crap’

Made for Australia, but with a universal message

Racism doesn't just manifest in overt statements and gestures. It can also take shape in more subtle ways—and still have devastating effects.

A powerful new spot from Australian public mental health organization beyondblue portrays a series of scenarios where quiet but very real prejudice—mainly in the form of unwarranted sideways glances, nervous shuffling, and insensitive jokes from light-skinned strangers—takes a toll on the psyches of Indigenous Australians, a group that includes Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

The clip from agency Marmalade has more than 400,000 YouTube views since being posted July 28. Some commenters over at Campaign Brief find it a bit too blatant. Yes, the ominous character who appears in each setting to personify and rationalize racist inclinations makes the theme quite obvious. But maybe that's a good thing. The point of the ad is to shine a light on often unspoken subtext, and it's hard to do that without making the insults truly explicit.

Plus, as straightforward as the message is, much of its emotional impact still comes from the body language of the actors, not the copywriting. That said, the closing line does drive the point home particularly well: "No one should be made to feel like crap just for being who they are."

@GabrielBeltrone gabriel.beltrone@gmail.com Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.