Fury over Dove's racist advert
As a young boy growing up in Britain I was often confronted with racist stereotypes in commercial advertising and in some senses much more sinister in children's reading books. This was commonplace throughout the 60s and 70s where attitudes to race were an echo of the days of slavery.
Cartoons featuring black savages, golliwogs featured everywhere and The Black and White Minstrels show one of the most popular shows on TV. One off the most striking and offensive was the soap advert that promised to turn black into skin white.
One would hope that in 2011 such crude stereotypes would have been discarded by the advertising industry. Unfortunately not. These adverts follow the publication of pseudo scientific report published on the now disgraced web site Psychology Today by the LSE Professor Satoshi Kanazawa that sought to " explain " why black women were considered ugly.
The subtle and not so subtle denigration of black women in advertising continues. Yesterday we learnt that Cadburys had launched and advert that equated a chocolate bar with black supermodel Naomi Campbell whilst today Unilever launched a Dove soap care range that features before and after shots of three women, one black one Latino and one white standing in front of skin chart entitled before and after.
The impression given is that Dove soap can change your skin form black or brown to white.
Speaking to the Daily Mail Dove confirmed that the advert was genuine, adding
'The ad is intended to illustrate the benefits of using Dove VisibleCare Body Wash, by making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week.
'All three women are intended to demonstrate the "after" product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.'
The fact is that such advertising has long tradition and subliminal racial stereotypes can still be detected in advertising today.
Firms such as Cadbury and Dove seem completely oblivious to the harm they cause when they publish these adverts. Far to many of these firms fail to cater for a diverse and global market, they use white media creative companies to develop their adverts, their senior management team are usually all white and there is an assumption that by extension there customer base is largely white.
This reflects a casual disregard for black communities, black creative talent and the public impact of such advertising. These adverts prompt everything to school playground jibes to hateful racial abuse and racial attacks.
The production of these adverts reflects the deeper blindingly white culture of corporate big business. They are of course happy to take our money as customers whilst abusing us from advertising hoardings on our high streets.
Its time we took action as black consumers to challenge the institutional racist nature of these companies and teach them the value of black pound. Watch this space…