Four young girls in a humanitarian cirque troupe are currently the new faces of Gap’s lifestyle brand, but the image used to advertise their troupe is more than a little worrisome.
The group, which consists of Ava, 8; Lucy, 8; Fanny, 12; and Angelina, 12, is known collectively as Le Petit Cirque, “the only all-kid humanitarian cirque troupe in the world.” They were introduced to Gap’s lifestyle brand ad with a tweet that read: “Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything.” And while the ads aimed to be empowering by “proving that girls can do anything,” several Twitter users thought otherwise.
Ironically, the motif of the Gap commercial and the GapKids x ED campaign, altogether, is to send positive messages that empower girls everywhere, of every demographic.
The quarrel many had with the GAP was how the lone black girl, among an all-white cast, in the video was portrayed as motionless and did not utter a single line of dialogue throughout the entire commercial. Many also argued that the black girl in the ad was mainly being used as a mere prop in comparison to the roles that the white girls played in the ad — thus demanding an apology from Gap.
The Ellen DeGeneres’ GapKids x ED collaboration has many Twitter users up in arms, saying the way the models are posed has a racist subtext. The entire Twitter Fraternity stood up for the equality gap and raised their voice! GAP currently apologized and is to change the commercial with a different shot.
If you think the era of political correctness has taught advertisers to create campaigns that are more sensitive and intelligent, think again. They are still quite happy to play into fears and stereotypes associated with race. While political ads are notoriously racist – even in the current presidential election – ads promoting everything from cars to office equipment to breakfast cereal have been laced with negative overtones.
And while some ads are sneakily suggestive, others are almost unbelievably shameless.
Here’s a look at some of the most racist commercials and advertisements in recent years, along with some vintage clips that still shock people with their racist messages.
One of the most racist commercials in recent history is particularly appalling. Volkswagen features an Arab terrorist in its ad campaign for the new Polo automobile. The terrorist attempts to be a suicide bomber at the scene of a busy restaurant, but his plan is thwarted because the Polo, despite being small, is just too strong for his bomb.
Sony’s multi-vignette PSP campaign in 2006 was clearly racist. The ads were promoting the new ceramic white PSP. The ads featured an aggressive, strong-looking white woman clawing, clutching and otherwise dominating a subordinate black woman. The campaign was universally panned as racist and Sony yanked the ads, apologizing for its lack of sensitivity.
Sony isn’t the only tech company guilty of racist advertising. Intel launched a national campaign in 2007 that was almost unbelievable in its symbolism – but it was most definitely real. A white manager stands over six black athletes who bow in perfect symmetry before him. Though Intel claims 100% innocence, it’s baffling why the company’s advertising direction would include such powerful slave imagery.
Equality never was and will be easy. Seeding in the thought of equality and raising voice about it isn’t the only step we should take… We all have a step to take towards change. Let ED know What’s your step today?
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.