The rise of racist & classist advertising

Aug 22, 2011 @ 10:42 am | By TheFeministGriote | 3 Comments

It has not been a good week for people of color living in their “post-racial” bubble. Yesterday, I stumbled upon an advertisement on Vogue Italia that was advertising gold hoop earrings, but in an effort to make them sound more “chic” Vogue Italia is advertising them as “slave earrings.” Who knew women who experienced slavery who were raped and forced to breed for their master’s sake would now inspire fashion trends?

The company Nivea also got into the racial media Olympics. Nivea thought that it was okay to run an ad suggesting that if Black men use their product they can go from being nappy- headed -brutes to clean- cut -prim- and-proper civilized members of society. In their defense the company has issued an apology, but whose buying that its sincere, surely not me! Advertisement is always intentional. Real thoughts and real people are behind advertisement and marketing. Focus groups, statistics, numerous meetings and most importantly money goes into creating and developing ads. So when an ad is racist or classist I refuse to believe it was a mistake. Like Mitt Romney said “corporations are people too” and sometimes people are racist and their racism “mistakenly” seeps out.

I am not a person of privilege nor am I delusional, therefore blatant racism in marketing and media is something that although it angers me it doesn’t shock me. With that said, the one thing last week that happened that really took me aback me was what Ambercrombie & Fitch did. A&F released this statement:

“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s (“The Situation”)  association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image,” a rep for the clothier said. “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”

A&F took their statement a step further by offering “The Situtation” and the other cast mates of the Jersey Shore money to not wear their clothing in public. In essence A&F niggerized “The Situation”  and his crew. I know you must be thinking who cares and you’re probably tired of seeing the guido’s and guidettes infiltrate pop-culture, but lets not be so quick to dismiss this act let us go deeper. Vogue Italia and Nivea were blatantly racist  with their ad’s that is obvious, but what A&F is attempting to do is not so obvious because its classist and classism breeds racism!

The spokesperson for A&F says that “The Situation” wearing their clothes goes against “the aspirational nature” of the brand. I’m sorry when did A&F become haute couture? Last time I checked, you can buy A&F from any major mall so in my opinion that brand has no exclusivity about it. I don’t wear A&F because their clothing is definitely not modeled for the likes of me… I am not white, blonde, or emaciated. Its one thing to think that a brand does not want  low class or hybrid minorities wearing its clothing or drinking its liquor e.g. (Cristal), but it is totally another thing for that brand to attempt to pay for ones erasure. I am not a fan of “The Situation,” but if he bought the not so stylish clothes off the internet or at the mall with real money, then he should be allowed to wear what his money can afford him. If “The Situation” was not Italian-American, but was from a prestigious upper class whiter background, a financier, or heir to a fortune I question if the company would still take such an untactful approach. For a brand to tell someone don’t wear our clothes because you are not the type of person we had in mind when we conceptualized the brand is prejudicial and above all classist and egregious!!!

For whatever reason urban kids no longer want to dress “urban,” but they’re embracing brands that do not value them. Urban teenagers have developed an affinity for wearing Hollister, A&F, and Areopostale and its both comical and sad. What’s next is A&F going to post up in front of inner city high schools, the ghetto, or my alma mater an HBCU (where its brand was very common) and hand out checks to these  “low brow” social pariah’s to not wear its clothing? Where does it stop?!

What do you think about the the recent racist ads? Do you care that A&F is being classist? Share your thoughts below…


Categories: Mind Over Chatter

3 Responses to “ The rise of racist & classist advertising ”

  1. Either Nivea doesn’t know and understand how their ad is racist, or they just blatantly don’t give a fuck! It’s sad because I’m sure there is at least one person of color on their marketing and publicity teams, yet it still gets approved. I am surprise that A&F wants the Jersey Shore cast to not wear their clothing when that’s free advertising and more money. They already don’t have any diversity in people that model their clothing, so even if they did use the “we’re not racist” excuse, it wouldn’t make a difference. The proof is in how they market. I’m glad that I don’t wear their clothing or use Nivea.

    And then, the slave earrings. They’re simple hoops. It’s like saying that black people are the only ones who wear huge hoop earrings. We already know the fashion world is racist anyway, but this just puts more icing on the cake.

  2. You are ovrtthinking it. Black is not synonymous with slave. Romans were slaves before the west African slave trade. Stop making everything a black issue for crying out loud. The problem is u look in the mirror and.see it self as a black pardon instead of seeing a human being. You are not it color. U didn’t do anything to earn being black.

  3. @ Sade you are absolutely right Black is not synonymous with slave. But in the description of the earrings Vogue Italia said the earrings were similar to what Creole slaves who were brought to the United States wore. Vogue Italia made the distinction about which slaves they were referencing. I was well within my right to make it a Black issue since Blacks were singled out.

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