Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl XLII - "Indian" themed ads

Did you guys watch the Super Bowl ? I bet almost all would have. Pretty exciting game and a nailbiting finish

Did you catch all the ads ? Seems like the Indian community has finally "arrived". The rite of passage being becoming the focus of racially stereotypical jokes. The Italian, Irish, Latinos , Chinese have all been through it and now it's our turn. Some would say being noticed in a funny manner is better than not being noticed at all.

1) Salesgenie.com did it twice. One ad, "Sales Hero," featured an Asian Indian salesman ("Ramesh Chakrapani") with a stereotypical accent being threatened by his white boss, a short, white man with a mustache, to boost his sales or else. After the Asian Indian employee checks out Salesgenie.com, he wins an award for best salesman of the year and accepts it on a stage standing next to his wife and seven children. The other commercial, "Panda," featured a panda-bear couple speaking with strong Asian accents, worried that their business, Ling Ling's Bamboo Furniture Shack, might go under. They call a panda psychic who refers them to Salesgenie.com. Both ads, produced in house, were found offensive by more than half a dozen ad execs, reports The Wall Street Journal.

2) Bud Light relegated most of its ad time to horses, Dalmatians, beer and Will Farrell, but one spot, "Language of Love," produced by the LatinWorks agency, offended some people. This commercial featured a group of men of multiple races/ethnicities trying to court women at a bar. A macho-looking Latino man was trying to get them to stop talking with their stereotypical accents--teaching an Asian man how to say hi, for example--and then trying to seduce a woman with his accent sounding like Antonio Banderas, but she's already taken by a short, Asian Indian man who says "Bud Light" in a thick Asian Indian accent.

These descriptions are from DiversityInc.com

The ads are funny but seem to be creating/reinforcing some weird stereotypes :

  • South Asians are communication challenged , have thick accents and have very large families.
  • South Asians are socially challenged

And such stereotypes are always dangerous……...


Rakesh said...

Deepak, The Salesgenie ads were created in-house by the CEO of InfoUSA (the parent of Salesgenie), Vinod Gupta, who saw no issues with it. There's an article in today's NYT on this.

Deepak Seth said...

That makes it doubly bad. Why accentuate negative stereotypes when there are many positive ones which can be reinforced.

Why show ourselves as losers when we are winners ? And who has met an Indian with seven kids ? in the current generation ?

This is a media driven society and it does not take long for such stereotypes to strike deep roots.

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