Ads perpetuate wrong ‘white’ agenda

Johannesburg  – It is in the everyday. A picture of a happy, healthy family is white. A husband and a wife with two children and a dog.

This is the image South Africans are shown in adverts about toothpaste, long-term investing, home improvement and sport utility vehicles. Adverts for nappies, baby food and health products show adorable pictures of white children in their large, safe and beautiful homes.

Health, vitality and a loving home environment are associated with a married white couple and their children. This narrative becomes more perverse when an alternative to this happy, healthy white family is given an inclusive twist.

Then, a black man and a white woman with their two coloured children will be shown frolicking on the beach with their fluffy dog in tow. Then it is downright prejudicial when a white man asks a black man if he has been promoted because he is driving a new luxury German car.

The black man then quips that he’s got an irresistible balloon payment offer on the luxury car.

The prime-time slots between 7pm and 9pm are awash with adverts for funeral cover and life cover for people living with HIV/Aids in vernacular channels and TV stations. Here the subjects of the adverts are black.

The chief mourner is a woman with no less than four young children by her side. This point of view is so entrenched, and accepted, that there are no complaints to the Advertising Regulatory Board to challenge such narrow views of a diverse country like South Africa.

First, it is ironic that South Africa, which is located on the southern-most tip of the African continent, is so uninvolved in influencing a more inclusive, personalised and local point of view rather than perpetuate prescribed views and answers to issues that a deeply flawed and rooted in the country’s colonial past. Second, with black people making up 81% of the South African population, it is a crime that the black consumer is treated with such contempt in advertising.

Even the content of advertisements by banks differs according to the audience the TV channel or radio station is targeting.

Does it mean black people are not interested in tax-free saving and long-term investment?

Does it mean blacks are living beyond their means by buying cars they can’t afford?

Or are these narratives part of a system that aims to keep blacks financially enslaved by debt and funeral policies?

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