Racism? Or Just Inevitable Criticism?

When it comes to what makes an effective ad, there is a fair amount of room for debate. However, there is one thing that I think we all can agree on. Advertisements that are racist and offensive are not effective ads. In the old days, ads were brimming with racism and sexism. Today, however, we like to think that we no longer have those types of ads occupying our television screens. Though we certainly have come a long way since the 50’s, there is still room for debate on whether some of today’s ads are racist or offensive.
Take, for example, a recently aired ad by the Australian dairy company, Devondale. The ad was for Devondale milk, and it was meant to utilize lighthearted humor. (view the ad by visiting the link below)

Unfortunately for Devondale, the ad was not received well by its Asian viewers. In an article by Andrea Hamblin, it is noted that Asian viewers complained that the ad was, “Very racist and demeaning to Asians.”Devonte Milk

I read that quote before I watched the commercial, and after watching the commercial I initially thought that I had watched the wrong one. I was shocked that this commercial had been accused of racism toward Asians. First of all, there is only one Asian in the entire commercial. Also, he is not even shown doing anything very embarrassing. Not to mention that he is heavily outnumbered by white people, who the commercial portrays as every bit as, if not more, incompetent than the Asian man.
I was surprised to hear that the complaints about the commercial being racist were not disregarded. I was even more surprised to learn that the Advertising Standards Bureau of Australia ruled the commercial to be racist.
I thought about how people could think that the commercial was racist, and I came to the conclusion that it is a simple case of people just looking for something to complain about. There will always be people whose nature it is to want to complain about things and play the victim no matter what. However, I think that those people only become a problem when they are validated by society.
That is why I think that it was a mistake for the Advertising Standards Bureau of Australia to call the commercial racist. In my opinion, the only reason that they did that was to quiet down the complainers, and I think that all it really did was show all those people that they can complain about whatever they want and they will be rewarded for it. But what do you think? Do you think that the ad was racist? Do you think that the people who complained had a legitimate case?

Hamblin, A. (2014, September 9). Devondale milk advertisement found to be racist by Advertising Standards Bureau. Herald Sun. Retrieved January 11, 2014, from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/devondale-milk-advertisement-found-to-be-racist-by-advertising-standards-bureau/story-fni0fit3-1227052518023?nk=4b194516a864a154922b7e645faa2ee8

3 thoughts on “Racism? Or Just Inevitable Criticism?

  1. As being Asian is a part of my identity, I did not find this advertisement to be discriminatory towards the Asian population. It is true that the people acted incompetent in the process of supplying milk.

    However, I do believe that the advertisement can do a much better job in being more inclusive to all races, rather than having a majority of caucasian people with one asian person. I do agree that having one asian person doesn’t make much sense. Is that one asian person supposed to represent all minorities?


  2. An idea I would like to throw out is that while I agree that most people would not agree with messages set across in racist advertisements, I don’t quite agree that they are ineffective. If a ad comes across as racist or otherwise offensive, it is going to become controversial and a lot of people are going to talk about it. So in terms of how effective offensive ads are at getting people to talk about a product, I actually think they are very effective. This is not to say I agree with any of the offensive portrayals, as most viewers probably wouldn’t either. Offensive ads definitely encourage people to talk negatively about the company represented, but some would say there is no such thing as bad press.


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