I was about to watch a program on Hulu last night when the site asked if I’d like to watch a single long-form advertisement instead of several short ones throughout the show. I went with the first option. What followed was a three-minute long mock-infomercial for Stride gum, presenting 17 absurd uses for a stick of gum.
The whole ad is stupid, but the scene at the 2:10 mark bothered me. I watched it again. A middle-aged black man with a thick African-sounding accent stands behind a desk with a bunch of plaques on the wall behind him. He claims the gum lasts a really long time as the text “World-Famous Scientist” shows below him. I guess I was supposed to laugh at his accent and the idea that he’s a top scientist. But it just struck me as racist, xenophobic and meanly suggesting that any African and/or black expert is likely to be some kind of idiot or fraud. The joke is on his appearance and accent. Judge for yourself:
What do y’all think? The ad was produced by JWT, which claims to be “the world’s best-known marketing communications brand.” The ad is only running online right now, but the Jackie Hathiramani, the agency’s creative director, told Brandfreak they’re hoping to run it on late-night TV as well.
Racialicious called out two JWT-produced Stride ads in 2007 for playing crudely on Asian stereotypes. Maybe in another two years we’ll have a new Stride ad making fun of some other ethnic group? Let’s hope not. I couldn’t find any contact page for JWT. But here’s Stride’s contact page and what appears to be Hathiramani’s Twitter. Might be worthing sharing your take on the ad with Hulu too.