I found this fun parody of the new and wildly successful Old Spice spokesman, a promotional piece for the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young Univisity on adfreak.com last week. While it should have been a simple, pithy post, I’ve obsessed for seven days about whether or not to post it.
Why? Because my immediate reaction, related to combating stereotypes in advertising was: Oooh. Look. A Smart Black Man. Then the unconscious bias kicked in…Seriously, is it such an anomaly to find a Smart Black Man that you have to make a big deal out of it. What does that say about YOU and YOUR biases?
On the one hand, there is often disparity in positive representations of African Americans in Media, so the opening image of the lead, Stephen Jones (who also c0-wrote the piece), holding his A+ paper saying “Look at my grades, now look at yours, now back at mine,” is powerful. The final shot shows a traditional painting of a BYU founding father and the tagline “Study like a scholar, scholar,” as though welcoming our friend into the BYU family.
However, on a closer view, it looks like Mr. Jones is the ONLY African-American student in the library that day. And, according to a report on collegeprowler.com, that may actually be everyday. The college review website gives BYU a C- for diversity, citing 0% African American students, and 0% African American Faculty.
So maybe I’m just pointing out that it’s a great piece, clever, funny and with a few great messages–students should go to the library, Universities should make sure their policies and practices do not discriminate, and it’s okay to acknowledge your unconscious bias, because may that’s how you learn something new.
What ad images have you seen that provoked an uncomfortable reaction for you?
The spot was written and produced by the Harold B. Lee Library Multimedia Production Crew, which consists of two full time employees and ten student employees. You can get all of the details at the official blog for the project.