Does stereotypical advertisements contribute to individual racism?

Kivi Lydia Vito
Kivi Lydia Vito
Lydia is The Indegenous's Editor and Public Relations Associate. She has a strong desire to be a voice and advocate for indigenous people and communities on social issues.‍

A photo of a young east-Asian boy carrying a little infant on his back outside of a café was sent to me a week ago, the photo came with the context that said  "Momo's The steamed food café."

Poster Ad outside of Dorabjee's

The photo above was taken outside Dorabjee's, one of Pune's largest supermarkets, which is regarded as having a reputable chain of supermarkets catering to upscale consumers.

The history of advertising supporting tone-deaf marketing is not new; Dorabjee's is not the first and, unfortunately, will not be the last.

The advertising industry is saturated with preconceptions spanning from gender and ethnicity to socioeconomic roles. These advertising may even affect cultural perceptions and establish opinions by promoting a product to consumers and the general public

The way groups of people are represented in ads does not necessarily completely reflect reality in the majority of these circumstances and is quite callous, offending the minority in most cases, like the ad featured outside of Dorabjee's.

Corporations and giant businesses play a significant impact in stereotyping culture. Consider the infamous Dolce and Gabbana campaign in China, which caused them to lose 98% of their market with a single video­­­­—

Dolce and Gabbana AD

The advertisement depicted an Asian woman attempting to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks and being perplexed when the chopstick failed to hold the pizza. The indignation over the advertisement rippled throughout China in 2018 and still hasn’t recovered from it.

“Maximize the power of your employees" was the tagline of the ad

In 2007, Intel released an ad for a desktop processor that featured a business-attire-dressed white man surrounded by six muscular black men. All of them are bending down in a sprinter's position that may be construed as a sign of servitude.

Dunkin Donuts launched advertising promoting its new charcoal doughnuts in Thailand in 2013, and yep, the commercials used "blackface" The campaign features a smiling lady wearing blackface makeup and bright pink lipstick, holding up a bite-sized black doughnut.

The ad in Thai read: "Break every rule of deliciousness."

The negative effects of commercial advertising can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, such as stereotyping certain ethnic groups or races. This "assigned" advertising can have an impact on people, especially when it is directed toward a certain demographic, in this example, the physical features are equated to "momos."

These kinds of advertisements can both indirectly and directly contribute to individual and institutionalised racism. For an instance –, Tailin Lyngdoh, a Meghalaya woman, was asked to leave the Delhi Golf Club in 2017 when they mistook her for a maid because she was dressed in traditional Khasi attire, jainsem, a garment worn by indigenous Khasi women.

Then there's the case of Nido Tania, a 20-year-old Arunachal Pradesh resident who was beaten to death in Delhi in 2014 by shopkeepers who threw racial remarks at him because he looked different, prompting him to defend himself, resulting in a dispute that cost his life.

In Bangalore, an Arunachali student was assaulted and made to lick his landlord's shoes while the owner yelled,  “You deserve it only because you are a dirty tribal from the North-east”. North Easterners face bias from the general public in most states, particularly when travelling outside of their native state or the north-eastern states.

This prompts the question: while all of these companies have issued statements apologising for their "insensitivity,"  but does it truly excuse their ignorance?

I'll leave it up to you to think about it.

But here’s my two cents: 

Individual, Systematic and Institutionalized racism and prejudice, on a larger scale, is a key issue that we, as ethnic and indigenous peoples, as well as people of colour, must face.

 The focus on racial justice must be emphasised in order to establish responsibility through pressing for accountability and educating people on the problems surrounding why such things should be avoided.

The purpose is to hold someone accountable for their actions through educating and resolving the problem.