Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

UNICEF Germany :: Save Africa, Go Blackface


Save Africa hipsterism reached a new low this summer with this UNICEF campaign by ad company Jung von Matt/Alster presenting German children in blackface.

You can see them beginning here. More analysis here.

Even the taglines, meant to call attention to Africa’s educaitonal crisis, sound nuts. Here’s one: “”In Africa, kids don’t come to school late, but not at all.”

Lost in translation maybe? Nein!

After protests, there was this reply from a UNICEF official:

The idea behind is that children from Germany demonstrate their solidarity with children in Africa by showing up with a coloured make up. Their message is: “Children may look different but are equal – we all want to go to school.” Absolutely no connotation of black children as “dirty children” was intended.

Before publishing the ad, we had carefully discussed possible misinterpretations and the agency had also tested public reaction in a survey in Germany, without receiving negative comments. Neither did we receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication.

The ad was published in a few high-quality print media like Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Zeit, Stern, free-of-charge. These media had never volunteered to publish the ad if they would have expected a negative connotation. Obviously, the perception of the ad varies by country…

We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children.

Onward…to cultural understanding, oh UNICEF soldiers!

posted by @ 9:45 am | 4 Comments

4 Responses to “UNICEF Germany :: Save Africa, Go Blackface”

  1. todd says:

    1. “We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children.”

    Wow, what a backhanded non-apology: We’re sorry that you got upset by this, perhaps you should just cool off.

    2. “Neither did we receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication.”

    Since when did Germany become the benchmark for racial sensitivity?

  2. ronnie brown says:

    “well-meaning” white people are going to be the death of black folk, sooner or later…

    either you’re too arrogant for an outright apology, or too stupid to make amends…pick your poison!


  3. Brother OMi says:

    who actually thinks of these ads?

    was it someone who has been in cryogenic freeze in the last 50 years?

  4. Rob says:

    WOW TODD your comment on Germany wasn’t racist.

    IT’S FUCKING UNICEF! do you really think that they would intentionally post a racist ad just to stir shit?

    It’s really a shame that people like you have to think negative about the positive message that this ad actually has. It’s because of people like you that this world can’t get a message about global warming across without a goddamn concert to promote it.

    Lighten the fuck up, and see this message for what it actually is. Then maybe this world just may be a better place.

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