Friday, May 23, 2014

Racist Images in Asian Advertising

By Eric Brothers (C) 2014
Malaysian cookie ad from 2011.

Grey Advertising, one of the biggest ad agencies in the world, created the above print ad in their Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, office.  Believe it or not, this is an ad for cookies.  The product: Fluff & Stuff Cookies. Apparently racial stereotypes are a useful tool to market products to the Asian market.  Marketing blogger Leslie Chen writes of the ad: "Each of the different flavors are represented by a character; vanilla as a nun and strawberry as a vixen. Who would have thought flavors could look so good? Accompanied by the caption, 'Your inner desires. Right in the middle,' the Fluff and Stuff Cookies Ads are completed in the tastiest way possible." However, it is difficult to tell that a product is being advertised; the tag line and name 'Fluff & Stuff Cookies' are so small and seem to be afterthoughts.
'This Africa' cigarette ads feature monkeys and the slogan "Africa is Coming"!

According to a report in the The World Post, the KT&G tobacco company launched its new product, 'This Africa' cigarettes, in 2013, in South Korea with ads featuring a monkey with a microphone.  The ads to promote cigarettes dried and roasted in "traditional" African style showed monkeys dressed as humans, tagged with the slogan "Africa is coming!" For some reason the the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) called the ads "shameless" and "mocking," prompting KT&G to apologize and pull the ads, but not the product.
Cigarette packaging shows primates curing tobacco.
"We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa," a company spokeswoman told ATCA. "Since this product contains leaves produced by the traditional African style, we only tried to adopt images that symbolize the nature of Africa." An assistant manager at KT&G’s public relations firm told the Korea Times the response to the monkey ad was "totally unexpected," and that no one raised the issue of racism during the creative process.
Dunkin Donuts' ad from Thailand.
 According to a report in The, Dunkin' Donuts has apologized after it ran an advertisement in Thailand featuring a woman in "blackface" make-up. The ad, which was used to promote the company's new "charcoal donut," was called "bizarre and racist" by a leading human rights group. The Thai division of Dunkin' Donuts had planned both a poster and television campaign using the image, which it shared on Facebook. The controversial ad presents a woman wearing dark make-up and bright pink lipstick, with a 1950s beehive hairstyle. She is holding a "charcoal doughnut," out of which a bite has been taken. The slogan next to the image reads: "Break every rule of deliciousness."

The CEO for Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand, Nadim Salhani, was initially bullish about the marketing: "It's absolutely ridiculous," he said. "We're not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don't get it. What's the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?"


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