UNICEF’s Blackface Faux Pas

When UNICEF wanted to launch a German ad campaign, they thought taking kids and putting them in blackface would be a great idea. It wasn’t. Radar has gone to the trouble of translating all four (!) blackface UNICEF ads… As for the German Committee of UNICEF, they’re already doing quite a bit of damage control. Check out this gem from their letter:

“The idea behind is that children from Germany demonstrate their solidarity with children in Africa by showing up with a coloured make up. Their message s: “Children may look different but are equal – we all want to go to school.” Absolutely no connotation of black children as “dirty children” was intended.


We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children. Please rest assured that we take your remarks very seriously and will consider them in any further communication.”

Ads appeared in, among other places, Die Spiegel, Stern and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

We’re imagining that quite a number of people will “feel irritated by the make up of the children.” Just a guess.

— Neal Ungerleider