Heineken slammed for racist ad


Dutch beer company Heineken recently joined the ranks of companies releasing racially insensitive and discriminatory adverts. In a recent ad, a friendly light-skinned bartender is shown sliding a beer down the bar past three Black people, into the hands of a light-skinned woman. As she takes a sip, the words “sometimes, lighter is better” flash across the screen.

Made to promote their low-calorie beer, the ad has sparked controversy, being slammed on Twitter by many, including hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper. This comes after backlash received by H&M for a January ad depicting a Black boy wearing a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle,” and a 2017 Coca-Cola ad that featured white model Kendall Jenner using a canned soda to lead a protest and ultimately disarm a fully armoured line of police.

With these instances becoming more common, some believe companies are purposely creating racially (or otherwise) insensitive ads to boost the amount of attention being paid to their company or to increase traffic on their websites and social media outlets.

In regards to the Heineken ad, Chance the Rapper tweeted "I'm not saying boycott them or go off, I'm just noticing how often it happens and I think they baiting consumers and tweeters and freelancers and s***. Like I didn't wanna tweet about it so bad but it's like how can you not."

In an interview with BBC’s newsbeat, PR professional Paul MacKenzie-Cummins said “It's an ultra-competitive market and the retail space has never been as competitive as what it is now. They need to do something to get their voices seen and heard." He then warns that the strategy may ultimately prove more damaging than helpful.

The company has removed the ad, and said in a statement that they “missed the mark.”

While it is obvious that more diversity within these companies’ marketing and advertising teams is necessary, it is scary to consider that these scandals could ultimately become lucrative ploys for companies to boost their online presence. There is no definitive evidence that these worries are substantiated, but there is no doubt that corporations have much work to do in producing inclusive, diverse adverts that do not stereotype or negatively represent members of minority populations.

Dominque Brodie