Moving Forward from The Most Racist Ad from All Time

In the current state of America there is a lot of racial tension. The Black Lives Matters Movement, demand for immigration reform and impending election with Republican nominee Donald Trump; there have been a lot of opposing views regarding race. What a sigh of relief that we can finally point the finger at someone else for being more racist than us.

If you have Facebook, or any social media for that matter, and have not been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen this Chinese laundry detergent commercial that not-so-subtly suggests that light is right and ~colored~ is…well just watch for yourself:

It’s clearly an offensive spot. Some have come to the defense of the ad saying that it parody’s an Italian ad under the same concept (as if that ad isn’t as equally problematic).

Last week, Adweek released an article about how easy it is for America to demonize other cultures shortcomings because we no longer allow such blatant discrimination in our media.  Although our ads have progressed through the years, we still have our slip ups that are damaging and hurtful.

Take this Super Bowl ad featuring Lil Wayne and George Washington. This ad came under fire for the insensitive implications of featuring a notorious slave owner being served by a Black man.

Or, this Gap shoot that was called out for having three non-minority girls actively participating, while the Black girl was seen as a prop.

gap-ad

And then there was this Nivea ad a few years ago, that deemed natural hair uncivilized.

NIVEA-AD-RACIST

It’s clear that we have room for improvement when it comes to creating ads that’s are inclusive and tolerant. Our duty to provide diverse advertising goes beyond race; gender, sexuality, age and ability need to be included in how we as creators are presenting images to be consumed.

Maybe I have too much of a “we are the world” point of view, but instead of criticizing and damning the Chinese ad, let’s use it as a learning moment on the messages we project when we use certain images. Having a diverse creative team would be more likely to prevent some of these blunders, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

The point here is, before we begin to point fingers at other ad people, let’s make sure we’re making the best effort to positively impact diversity.