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Friday, December 10, 2010

Duncan Hines and the Racist Cupcakes

Ah, racism. Know you no bounds?

Actually, this is kinda silly...but I understand. I can also understand because I've worked in advertising for nearly 15  years. There's definitely a racial disparity in the field-- most of the time (I'm on the creative side of things), I am the only black person in the room, along with your occasional asian or hispanic. And I can say that damn near any instance of mention of "racism" is accidental; there is usually a very calculated effort to avoid racism or sexism of any kind. But, sometimes...some things kind of fall through the cracks-- not intentionally...but just, in general, because most people (Americans, in particular) just do not understand history.

Take, for example:

They are calling them "Hip-Hop Cupcakes". Why? No clue. Possibly because the song they sing kinda sounds like some focus-groupy idea of what "hip-hop" sounds like. "Hip-Hop" being the musical art form introduced by African Americans. And "cupcakes" being...a tasty treat. Anyway, so look at the artwork. Vanilla cupcakes, with chocolate frosting, with eyes and pink lips. Some people are claiming that this image is akin to blackface. Is it?

So...there ya go.

There are some people that will hear the accusations of "racism" about this Duncan Hines ad, and immediately call "bullshit". BUT, in advertising you have to understand something about the world we live in: PERCEPTION MEANS EVERYTHING. Again, I'm not saying that the people responsible for the advertising here are maliciously targeting black folks with images of black face. Chances are, no one heard anything about it, or thought anything about it, until the ad was out the door. And, chances are that someone tried to mention to them that this ad made the cupcakes look like they were in blackface, and they probably said "No way-- NO ONE would think that!" Either way, unfortunately, that was their fault.

So, I don't call "racism" on this ad campaign. I merely call "head up their asses".

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