Local ad unintentionally racist
There are advertisements that make you cringe sometimes and wonder if you are the only one who thinks the ad may be offensive to a large group of people. When this type of ad runs during the Super Bowl you just have to wonder what the company was thinking.
Last week during the Super Bowl in one of the slots allotted for local companies, ‘the heavy hitters’ of the law firm of Alexander & Catalano ran an advertisement that featured Asian people watching commercials from the game. Recognizing the jingle for the law firm in one of the ads, the group breaks out in song. The actors in the commercial are speaking their native tongue but the subtitles seemed like they were in broken English.
After viewing the commercial there was the feeling that something about it just wasn’t right.
Peter Catalano, one of the heavy hitters, said the firm had received about three complaints about the ad as of Tuesday afternoon.
‘It was supposed to be cute and funny,’ Catalano said. ‘If anyone was offended we apologize.’
Catalano explained that the actors in the commercial were speaking Mandarin Chinese and the viewer was supposed to assume they were in a village in China. The concept was to show that even in China, about as far away as you can be from Syracuse, people know about the importance of Super Bowl ads and recognize the firm.
In reality the ad was shot in Louisiana and not only ran for the heavy hitters but for about 10 other law firms throughout the country, Catalano said. The ad was created by an independent company and approved specialists in ethics to make sure it was not offensive, he said.
‘It was an ad special for the Super Bowl and was (run again) about two or three more times but it won’t be running anymore,’ Catalano said.
In this case it seems the firm had the best of intentions in mind but commercials like this bring to mind a larger issue of how prudent you must be when trying to be clever and funny when there is such a large, diverse audience able to see what you are showing. In this situation Alexander & Catalano, and the other firms who used the ad, would have been better off sticking with the more appealing message of their company – if I am hurt in the workplace or in my car they are the one who will fight to make me filthy rich.
RYAN GAINOR IS A JUNIOR PHILOSOPHY AND NEWSPAPER MAJOR. E-MAIL HIM AT RMGAINOR@SYR.EDU.
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