Chinese Controversial Ad — Racist Or Ignorant?

Today’s chosen ad is featured on my “WOW ADS” category for all the wrong reasons. Don’t ask me how I stumbled upon this controversial ad… I just don’t remember. Without further ado, here’s the ad:

The commercial itself is quite self-explanatory: the detergent is supposed to wash all the “dirt” away. Hmm… where should I start? First, in my opinion the ad would be less offensive if she simply threw the man inside the washing machine and then his shirt came out without any stains. Still… pretty weird, but less offensive. Second, it really bothered me how they dehumanized the black man. He’s not seen as a human being. He’s more like a nuisance because he’s dark-skinned and therefore his “dirt” needs to be “washed away”.

Most people can agree the ad was all kinds of wrong. However, given that it was made by Chinese people raised another question in my head: was the ad really racist or just really ignorant? Now… a lot of people may say it’s all the same. Well… actually, it’s not. Here’s my take on things, when it comes to racial remarks:

  • racist: when someone displays hatred or intolerance towards another race, the intent is to hurt the target’s feelings.
  • ignorant: when someone says or does distasteful things targeted at someone of another race but not necessarily with ill-intent.

The first definition is pretty straightforward. The second one might puzzle some. What do you mean they don’t know? Well… some people are just “racially ignorant”. In other words, they are not cultured towards other people’s races or ethnic backgrounds. When you are a racially ignorant person, you simply don’t know the meaning behind certain terms. These people are completely oblivious about the negative impact that these words can have on certain people. Having said that, sometimes I’m kind of less harsh on ignorants — they just don’t know better. When corrected and informed about their inappropriate behaviour, some are even willing to apologize and change. As I said, many ignorants don’t have ill-intent in their hearts, they are just misinformed.

Let’s now return to the ad. I’ve done a little bit of research and it was cool to find out that a significant number of Chinese citizens are feeling outraged about the ad as well. It’s definitely positive that Chinese people are acknowledging that these types of behaviours or thoughts are wrong. My final verdict: it’s an ignorant ad. People may disagree, but I don’t think the ad’s designers were purposely trying to create a racist ad. I believe they really wanted to emphasize the detergent’s qualities, but instead they managed to express it in a very inappropriate way. That’s what happened in my opinion. What about you? What do you think?