Sunday, May 14, 2017

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After Pepsi, Shea Moisture and the Braid Bar, brands may think twice about exploiting images of black culture for profit

It’s not every day that I get drawn into a debate over whether Bob Marley stole his hairstyle from the pharaohs, and the rights and wrongs of Lionel Shriver’s sombrero. But 2017 is shaping up to be that kind of year. The kind remembered, I hope, as a time when advertisers finally woke up to fact that cultural appropriation – as in ripping off long-stigmatised cultures without giving them due credit – is not going to end well for their brands.

2017 has already produced a bumper crop of misjudgments. Pepsi released its toe-curlingly bad advert in which Kendall Jenner took part in a protest that ripped off images from the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements, only to climax with the model sharing a Pepsi with the police. This ludicrous scenario offered endless and priceless opportunities for parody, such as the tweet posted by Martin Luther King’s daughter picturing the civil rights leader being shoved by a white officer, with the caption: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pespi.”

Black women built SheaMoisture. And not the "I was teased for having good hair" Black women. Black women will take it right on down too.

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