‘They’d love to meet you’

A new public service announcement by the South African alcohol beverage company Brandhouse, warning of the perils of drinking and driving, is perhaps a more powerful argument against copywriting while drunk. It’s also more evidence of the garden variety racism that circulates in South Africa’s advertising industry and in polite circles. For those clueless to South Africa’s realities, the PSA basically warns white men what could happen to them if they are caught drinking and driving: They’ll get raped by black men in prison with big arms, no teeth and lots of tattoos. At the next award ceremony, here’s hoping it takes the prize for “most offensive stereotypes in under 60-seconds.”

Columnist Chris Roper very ably rips the ad apart in the (South African) Mail & Guardian. (It is instructive to read the comments on Roper’s piece too.) It just makes us want to drown our sorrows.

BTW, on garden variety racism: Earlier this week, Annelie Botes, a white South African novelist awarded a literary prize named for a black writer, was asked by a reporter whether there was any group she does not like. Without hesitation, she deadpanned: black men. Serious. —Brett Davidson and Sean Jacobs


7 thoughts on “‘They’d love to meet you’

  1. Jesus. Do people still not get it? I guess these people are all products of ‘quality’/colonial/apartheid/post-apartheid education. Who are these copywriters and art departments? Where did they grow up, go to school university, college? Who were their teachers? This is ignorant.

  2. I was so shocked by this, but even more by the comments on the M&G editorial. I can’t believe that people seem so unaware of all that is wrong with this. While there where some major problems with the erasure of difference that characterized South Africa’s rainbow decade (or half-decade or so), at least most people showed a little more awareness of the issues with racial (and sexual) typecasting. This looks like it comes out of a 1970s SADF recruitment campaign.

  3. Maybe you are being the racists here by assuming this ad is aimed only at white people and that people in South African prisons don’t look like this? Did you maybe not see the three white prisoners in the ad? Or did you identify them as victims because they are locked up with black people. Now THAT is racist.

    Catch a wake up:

  4. @ Wakey Wakey, gimme a breakey
    I didnt notice 3 white prisoners, because they are somewhere in the background, and not really part of the narrative of the ad. What I did notice is all the “normal” and innocent guys (at risk of going to prison for drunk driving) were white and the black prisoners who speak in the piece (and who pose the threat to the white guys) are black. What Chris Roper also points to in the Mail and Guardian is the dichotomy of good vs evil, illustrated in the ad using race; as well as language (English vs. Afrikaans).
    Secondly, have you been into prison in South Africa? I have been to Pollsmoor many times (filming etc) and it doesnt look like a “greenpoint sauna” as Roper points out, nor are most prisoners toothless caricatures or serial rapists.
    Of course there are the numbers gangs in SA prisons, but this ad seems to imply that the numbers gangs are made up of monsters who only exist to rape and terrorise innocent white men .

  5. Come on, you can’t seriously think that this is racist? I think it’s aimed at all different cultures in South Africa, white and black. And if you think the 3 white dudes look normal, then you need your eyes checked.

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