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Faggot, Paki and Nigger: A Hanes Ad

15 Apr

Remember the days when Michael Jordan was the face of Hanes, the tagless underwear? Hell, remember Michael Jordan? Well, never mind if you remember either him or that ad because those days of “Look who we’ve got our Hanes on now” are gone, baby, gone. Cuba Gooding Jr. isn’t running around trying to hug Michael, nor are Matthew Perry and Kevin Bacon trying to out-cool him (as if). Instead, these are the days of the so-called “Lipstick” campaign, designed by the Bombay branch of advertising behemoth McCann Erickson.

The new tag reads: “Hanes. Because the world gives you enough labels” and the following images appear:

As you can imagine, reactions have been mixed thus far. Those that have liked it, have really liked it but wonder if this is something more suited to an activist campaign than, you know, an underwear company. Those that have hated it, really can’t stand it.

Joe.My.God, where the readers seem to have overwhelmingly liked the ad, says he wonders if the gay press would allow an ad with the word “faggot” (the use of which lost Isaiah Washington his job on Grey’s Anatomy) to appear in America. And let’s not even talk about the word “nigger”. I suppose “Paki” being more a British thing would have been unwelcome but less of a hassle? But his readers brought up a far more interesting angle: if this ad does appear in America (or elsewhere for that matter), should it appear in the mainstream press for the straights to ponder or in the LGBT media for the community to “get it”?

Because, as the readers at Towleroad have pointed out, this is an ad that could possibly hoodwink some poor mentally challenged bigot into thinking that Hanes supports his/her bigotry. I’d like to think that we live in a world where people aren’t yet stupid enough to not put the words in context with the big picture, but I’m being constantly disappointed, so who knows? It’s entirely possible that someone might be so transfixed by all the pretty colors that they missed out on everything but the giant letters.

Meanwhile Trendhunter, one of the people who really loathed it, brings up an interesting point:

The concept of tags might be a smart idea, playing on the social tags to promote tagless undies is very creative. But, in my opinion, this is a stupid delivery! I believe the mere use of such hateful tags to promote underwear is a foolish, immature and cheap way to garner publicity for this controversial campaign, but they go even further with illustrations and slogans that make matters worse…Such a campaign would never be approved in Europe or America, where the use of such hateful references is a big ‘No No’, even when you are trying to use it in a positive light.

Which makes me wonder: really? Would it be considered a “yes-yes” to publish say that third one, an ad that calls Muslims pigs, in India even for a positive purpose? If people think this ad might be misinterpreted as something that endorses bigotry in America or Europe or is an unsubtle attention-grabbing ploy, then they should give India “Land of Hurt Sentiments” a try to fully appreciate its scope.

Funnily enough, the ads seem to have been pulled from sites like Ads of the World and Advertolog that first reported it. Cold feet or was this a sneaky test run? Has anyone seen these in print?

[Via Queerty]

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20 Comments

Posted by on April 15, 2008 in Entertainment, Life, Newsmakers

 

20 responses to “Faggot, Paki and Nigger: A Hanes Ad

  1. the mad momma

    April 16, 2008 at 7:13 am

    you know – i believe in social responsibility – but as ads go – the idea is to grab the viewer’s by the eyeballs and this one does it so well. its great copy.

    you dont say how you feel abt them – other than that you are being disappointed 🙂 i agree. often ppl disappoint me by missing the point.

     
  2. Amrita

    April 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    MM – I think it catches the eye but I dont know if it makes me want to go out and buy me a pair of Hanes. Esp, as some people have pointed out, they’re making those undies in sweatshops in B’desh. But then I didn’t feel like basing my undie decisions on Jordan either. comme ci comme ca I guess. 🙂 If all they wanted was to up the profile however, this is a great job!

     
  3. Gagan

    April 17, 2008 at 2:31 am

    If it were just art I would be fine with it. The fact that it’s corporate makes me uncomfortable, with some unattended type of branding taking place no matter the context. Can’t speak to the other epithets but having grown up in London, paki is uncomfortably familiar. We had to learn to own it, have a laugh with it to deflect its effect, like whats done with the N word. I can recall running down the middle of some really bad council projects in the middle of the night one time, five of us chasing one shouting out “u fucking paki, ur done when we get u”. we were all Indian. Could not stop laughing after. Must have woken up half the neighbourhood
    . It blew off the real stress of stuff like that really happening. Even the reaction to it , giving as good as you took , I figure fucks u up in the end, cos violence is a circle- Hard men go down a hard road if they don’t find another route. Not sure how the Bombay branch could of been sensitive to it coz I heard some of the most casual racism expressed in India. I mean how would they know.

     
  4. Sumedh

    April 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Ah well, as they say, the freedom of speech has no meaning unless you have the freedom to hurt sentiments. Because whenever anyone opens one’s mouth, someone’s gotta get hurt, huh!?

    But I’ll say this, at least their thought idea was great, even if their implementations is, ummm, controversial…

     
  5. turtlebutt

    April 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Well I have to admit they catch your attention. Enough so to make me click on your post from the WordPress main page. I think as a whole they get the point across, but individually, people might have trouble getting the point. And then people will no doubt find the language offensive. It’s a good idea, but I think the execution could be better.

     
  6. Robert

    April 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Hanes issued a press release last week saying that they didn`t authorize the ads and are also upset by them and the mis-use of their name. This might also explain why the ads were pulled down from Advertlog et al.

     
  7. Amrita

    April 19, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Gagan – I was under the impression that this ad is targeted at the British market so the Paki thing makes sense. Point noted on the cyclic nature of abuse. As for them getting it – I understand the head of the Bombay branch is “an old white guy” according to one blogger. Presumably he didn’t grow up in India so he must know better…So you were a hellraiser? 😀

    Sumedh – I agree, its not something that they did in spite of themselves. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into it.

    Turtlebutt – (great moniker btw) That’s what I think too. I got in touch with one of the people behind his ad, let’s see if she’ll talk and let us in on the thinking behind this.

    Robert – I didn’t know that, thanks for letting me know. Things get curiouser then. McCann Erickson isn’t the kind of organisation to make mistakes like that. A leak, perhaps?

     
  8. Amey

    April 19, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Couldn’t they come up with some “labels” which are far more common, far less offensive but far more dangerous?

    The message these ads give seems to be that labels are offensive, and not that they are useless/don’t define you. Which would have been even better campaign I think…

     
  9. philippekrakowsky

    April 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    IPG apologizes for fake Hanes ads created by rogue employees without knowledge of client or agency. For details, see our statement at http://apology4fakehanesads.wordpress.com/.

     
  10. Gagan

    April 20, 2008 at 2:30 am

    So it was all a fake.. good graceful out..better than blaming it on the old standby ” the old white guy ” …old white guys everywhere must be sighing in relief., cut some slack for a change 🙂 wish it were all past tense and circumstantial, but its ingrained I’m afraid and mostly of my own volition 🙂

     
  11. asuph

    April 22, 2008 at 12:26 am

    damn! all this discussion ending in disappointing “fake” discovery! so much for our beliefs in fakes.

    i’m quite late, and everyone has drunk the last drop of their coffee and gone elsewhere for another cuppa, still a forum is a forum ;-), so i gotta throw my few cents as well.

    all i’ll say is, i’ll like to live in a world where such ads can be published, owned up and taken with a hearty laugh. amen to that.

    asuph

     
  12. Amrita

    April 22, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Amey – but would they catch the eye as much? That is the question. It IS an ad after all.

    Gagan – somebody’s getting fired I bet

    Asuph – hey better late than never 🙂 I like the sound of that world – send me an invite when you find it.

     
  13. Wendy

    April 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Though now we know they’re fake, I think the idea of running ads that bigots might view as supporting their opinions isn’t a persuasive reason for pulling them. Bigots, like the rest of us, only get dumber when everything caters to the lowest common denominator.

     
  14. Amrita

    April 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    wendy – i feel the same way 🙂 but this is one hell of a strange scene… i think everybody’s been played. i just dont know how.

     
  15. Skan

    May 19, 2008 at 5:07 am

    Right, two creatives had the ability to produce, media book and place unapproved print ads on behalf of a client. Does McCann Erikson think everyone is clueless about the workings of agency? Obviously there is a lot more to the story. Amitra, any more updates to this issue? Very curious. Retired. But curious. LOL.

     
  16. Amrita

    May 19, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Skan – read your post: you make a compelling case! I messaged the woman who got thrown to the wolves on Facebook but she hasnt gotten back to me, understandably. And I didn’t want to push it coz she’s obvs going through a horrible point in her career (this is why I could never hack journo school). Whats interesting is that McCann Erikson got this completely ghetto ass blog to publish their apology in – couldnt they at least lay out the fifteen bucks for a site?

     
  17. Skan

    May 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Heh, actually I was only mildly curious till I read that Joshi person’s comments. Then I got riled up. It’s irresponsible and criminal for anyone who comes from a marketing background to make the kind of comments he did. And it looks like they picked a couple of scapegoats and threw them to the wolves. And too true about the IPG statement. I feel sorry for your contact but it is recoverable. Just keep that Joshi fella in a dark room and tell him to write lyrics instead of press statements.

     
 
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