Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Elia Pekica Pagon
Advertisers very often find themselves on shaky ground and fall over by wishing to be humorous or simply cool. After each fall, they have to get up, dust themselves off and learn from their mistakes.
The same thing happened recently to H&M, two photographs of boys in hoodies caused uproar on social networks. One photograph showed a dark skinned boy wearing a hoodie with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle” and another photograph showing a white skinned boy in a hoodie with a tiger and the slogan “survival expert”. Many people deemed these photographs racist, and some H&M customers said they would never shop with them again.
Many music stars cancelled their collaboration with H&M, one of the first to do so was the Canadian musician The weekend.
Anna Eriksson, the H&M spokesperson, in an attempt to quell the distress caused , apologised publicly to all those offended by the campaign, H&M removed the offending photographs and withdrew the hoodies from sale. Terry Mango, the mother of the African American boy asked everybody to calm down and stop rioting. She couldn’t see anything wrong with the campaign and couldn’t understand the reaction to it; she said it was not her way of thinking.
That didn’t satisfy those people fighting racism in all its guises. South African activists demolished several H&M shops and mass anti racist protests were staged. Social networks were flooded with pictures of demolished shops and of protesters. Unfortunately, the police had to intervene.After the riots, news circulated on social networks that all H&M shops in South Africa were closed with the message that racism must end.
It is important to invest in the education of people working in advertising, because this type of publicity is not good for anybody. I suppose this error occured due to the lack of sensibility of the people involved in the campaign. Let’s remind ourselves of other mishaps by well known brands who have tripped up in their campaigns and have learned a valuable lesson about creating their marketing messages.
We all still remember the infamous Chinese Qiaobi washing liquid where a Chinese woman put a dark skinned man in a washing machine and ended up with a Chinese man after washing , which made her very happy. In the end the company were forced to apologise after negative reactions by consumers.
In 2006, Sony’s campaign for the Dutch market caused upset by using the slogan “White is coming”, created by Brussels TBWA.The adverts for new the Playstation Portable showed a tall white woman holding a frightened looking black woman’s chin in one photo and pulling her hair in another.The campaign visuals tried to show the difference between the black and white consoles, but negative reactions was all that was created by showing photographs of the white race dominating the black race. Sony apologise immediately and halted the campaign to avoid further negative publicity.
Intel’s advert in 2007 showing a smiling and rather smug white boss with his arms crossed surrounded by dark skinned workers crouched on their marks as if in a race in a submissive position. It was seen as if alluding to slavery and Intel had to apologise and withdraw the advert. In the history of advertising this case was a big lesson to all. But some marketing people obviously don’t mind repeating mistakes in advertising .
Naomi Campbell was shocked by a 2011 Cadbury campaign where her skin tone was compared to chocolate. The slogan was: Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town“. Naomi’s mother Valeri was deeply distressed and called the campaign racist. Cadbury put out a statement saying that it was not their intention to allude to her skin colour, the statement was seen as positive by the advertising profession but Cadbury withdrew the campaign due to the negative publicity.
Our own chocolate company Kraš fell foul by comparing people’s skin tones with chocolate when they launched the campaign Nitko kao ti (Nobody like you) where a dark skinned woman is compared to a chocolate biscuit and other products like Fontana, Bananka, Bajadera, Bronhi bombone, Tortica and Dorina were advertised by light skinned people. Kras believed that the campaign was well received but some social network users didn’t like comparing somebody’s skin tone with chocolate.One thing is sure: Kraš had the best of intentions to present their products in best possible way.
Nivea found itself on the same shaky ground of being misunderstood in 2011 with their campaign Re-civilize Yourself featuring an african american man holding a mask of his own face with the slogan “Look Like You Give A Damn. Re-civilize yourself!“(„Izgledaj kao da ti je stalo. Reciviliziraj se!“
Nivea understands the power of public opinion and issued a statement after the first criticisms were voiced: Thank you for taking care of us and telling us what you think about our advert. The advert was offencive and unacceptable. We never meant to cause offense and we are deeply sorry. This advert will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunities are our core values.
The Nivea campaign brought out of the closet a scandalous Vinolia soap campaign from 1895. It featured a white girl offering Vinolia soap saying to a black boy:„You, dirty boy, why don’t you wash yourself with Vinolia Soap?“ („Ti, prljavi dječače, zašto se ne opereš Vinolia sapunom?“). This old example should be a reminder of how not to communicate and all those trying to be humorous should think twice and take heed of this ugly but informative case.
It is less known that Nivea had to withdraw their campaign in 2017. The campaign White is Purity had to be withdrawn because of public outcry. It happened in record time and quietly, Nivea apologised to all offended by their campaign.
To err is human as is learning from one’s mistakes. It can happen to the best of us. Even Unilever’s Dove, the brand known for celebrating diversity and beauty of all people and a praiseworthy global campaign Real Beauty emphasising self awareness and self confidence, had to withdraw the Dove Body Wash campaign featuring dark skinned woman in a brown shirt turning into a white woman wearing a white shirt by taking the shirt off. Then, the white woman turns into a Asiatic woman wearing a beige shirt.But the public didn’t like the order of shirt changing and didn’t realise that the advertiser only wanted to emphasise that Dove Body Wash is for all women who are proud of their skin colour and is a celebration of diversity as stated by Marissa Solan, doves spokesperson, who also admitted that they had made a mistake and had offended a lot of people. At the end of the day,they have admitted their mistake and apologised to all the offended
People are sensitive and see offence where there might not be any. One has to be cautious and think carefully about the kind of message being sent, who is it aimed at, why are we sending it and how it may be perceived in different parts of the world.
Here’s one more example of ill advised and politically incorrect marketing communication; last year’s American fast food chain Taco Bell campaign for the German market advertising a new item on the menu, Naked Chicken Chalupa, featuring a white man accidentally throwing the used Chalupe wrapper at an African American woman pushing a buggy. The wrapper falls into the buggy as he was not paying attention. The company was inundated by accusations of racism by their shocked customers (some even said it was not accidental), the company changed the advert by omitting the offending scene. In the new, politically correct version the man manages to put the rubbish in the bin. Their apology stated that they never meant to offend anybody by this campaign and they apologised to all who were offended.
We can see that the outcome to all these mishaps is similar, the advertiser apologises and withdraws or changes the campaign. How is it that we make the same mistakes time and time again. Why do professionals decide to use race, ethnicity, age, gender, language, religion and other stereotypes knowing full well it is a sensitive subject. And how is it that clients accept the ideas of their agencies so easily, and not be aware that somebody’s clumsy and wild (read as thoughtless) creativity can damage their hard won reputation.
For years Benetton have been using culturally diverse and tolerant formula on a global scale. We would do well to every now and then look through their campaigns that celebrate in a original way a uniqueness and an equality of all peoples, showing that diversity is our greatest asset and putting all the skin colours on the a pedestal of the United Colors of Benetton, without any wrong, clumsy, ill advised and discriminating messages, but not being shy of using sometimes shocking and provocative ideas in their campaigns which strengthens their global brand. When reviewing the past United Colours of Benetton campaigns, the message to the H&M’s of this world, who aspire to be the new Benettons in promoting cultural and ethnic diversity and tolerance: that’s how you do it!