Afghanistan censors U.S. troop media

By Matt Gillis

Censorship is no new development in the field of advertising in the United States. Over time, advertisements promoting sexual themes, violence or substance abuse have been pulled from the media landscape in an effort to protect a healthy cultural image.

While some believe the removal of advertisements in the United States hinders a company’s right to freedom of speech, most understand that advertisements promoting negative subjects are reasonably censored. However, countries like Afghanistan are facing media censorship that not only limits freedom of speech but also obstructs their progress toward cultural independence.

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Recently, the Afghan government has begun shutting down television spots airing advertisements that support United States involvement in Afghanistan. Due to their disagreements with Washington, the government will continue to censor advertisements promoting United States troops after 2014.

The United States funded advertisements, including one that was aired by Afghanistan’s most widely watched broadcaster, are being censored after several weeks of broadcast due to their content; They encourage President Hamid Karzai to sign a security pact that would allow United States troops to stay in Afghanistan.

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The commercials feature interviews with Afghanistan’s own citizens who also support Karzai’s signing of the pact, saying, “You should accept the people’s demand and sign this as soon as possible.”

The advertisements were taken off the air after the source of their funding was put under investigation. Karzai’s censorship actions are part of his latest hostility toward Washington, and he cites that the United States is doing too little to fight terrorism after the country experienced a deadly restaurant attack.

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, over 150 radio stations, 50 televisions stations and 1,000 newspapers have developed. However, Afghanistan’s media censorship as a way of limiting freedom of speech has inhibited the country’s progress toward media independence.

While these media outlets understand that the source of funding of these political advertisements was from ISAF, they aimed to treat the content with similar terms and conditions as they would an advertisement from any other company.

As I understand it, advertising in the United States, for the most part, is a protected practice under our constitutional right to freedom of speech. While censorship in the United States is used as a means of promoting a healthy society, censorship in other parts of the world is used as means of control.

In the case of Afghanistan, does advertising have the power to establish freedom?

Reference list:

–       Afghanistan Cracks Down on Advertising in Favor of US Troops. (2014, January 22). VOA. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-afghnistan-cracks-down-on-advertising-in-favor-of-us-troops/1835097.html

–       Shalizi, H. (2014, January 22). Afghanistan cracks down on commercials that favour U.S. troops. Reuters. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/22/us-afghanistan-us-advertising-idUSBREA0L0OT20140122

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A Bold, Brave and Black Ad

Many people do not know, but Dunkin’ Donuts is a worldwide company and has many locations all around the globe. The “DD” in Thailand has recently had a 50% increase in sales and many say that it is because of a very popular, yet very controversial ad that was just released in the country.

The advertisement pictures a beautiful, smiling young lady, whose skin was painted charcoal black, wearing a bright pink lipstick and holding the company’s new “charcoal donut.” Obviously, this sparked some anger in people, but none of these offended people are Thai…they are American! The CEO Nadim Salhani says, “So what? It’s just paranoid American thinking.”

His daughter is the one who is the model for the ad. The CEO told the Associated Press that he did not understand why he is not allowed to use the color black to promote the new product, because if the donut was white and he painted someone’s face white, would it still be considered racist? He thinks not.

The American Dunkin’ Donuts posted an apology on its website and promised to take down the advertisement because of it’s “bizarre and racist sensitivity.” The Human Rights Watch even complained about the ad and could not believe how offensive and crazy the campaign was.

I have attached both the magazine/Facebook advertisement for the “charcoal donut,” as well as the commercial for it (sorry it’s all in Thai I could not find English subtitles). Personally, I do not think it is offensive and I believe that it is important to understand the global context of the situation, because even if Americans are offended, the ad is not running in the States. If it was broadcasted in America, people would obviously react in a negative way, but it is on the other side of the planet, so the people of America and every other country need to be more understanding and open-minded about global mindsets in marketing.

The Thai Dunkin’ did not create the advertisement with the intentions of offending people or being racist. They wanted an ad that would be appealing to the eye and of course a pretty girl with bright lips but a pitch-black face would make consumers curious.

I like the concept of the commercial, I think it makes people interested to know more about the donut and makes them want to go out and purchase one. I don’t think that it is insensitive in any way; it simply appears to be a creative marketing tactic.

Sorry America, I’m going to have to side with the Thai people on this one. Stop taking things so seriously!!!!!!!!! Take a chill pill, people!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQMKqeHgEEs

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