I recently lodged a complaint against Carling Black Label with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa for their #NOEXCUSE campaign. My reasons for voicing out my dissatisfaction with the advert was based on the following statement that I sent to them:
Misrepresentation of black men through generalisations and stereotypes on television.
I don’t condone violence against women. But I have an issue with the media constantly using black men as the only identifiable perpetrators of horrendous crimes against women and children. I know for a fact that the Coloured, Indian and White communities hold just as much accountability for cases of domestic violence. So why are ad campaigns that are clearly one sided being aired on television? An unassuming black kid who’s exposed to such atrocities will grow up with the misconception that ‘all’ black men are women beaters and child abusers. It seems to me that the #NoExcuses advert is saying that domestic violence is by affiliation a ‘black issue’. That for me is irresponsible campaigning. Domestic violence is a global issue that all racial communities are facing. Not all black men are abusive individuals. Let’s avoid generalisations and address the issue at hand. As a suggestion, rather have multiple adverts showing couples from different racial backgrounds dealing with the issue of domestic violence.
My statement was met with this response from Bongiwe Tyutu who is a representative of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa:
Dear Mr Njabulo Ngobese,
Please note that the Advertising Standards Authority does not have jurisdiction to prescribe to advertisers on their choice of cast. We would only look at the matter if the context of the commercial was relating to the race of the characters and the complaint was with respect to this.
While we accept that the “villain” is a black male, and the “victim” a black female, this in itself does not and cannot reasonably be interpreted as an indication that ALL black men are the main perpetrators of gender violence or the violence against women and children is a “black issue”.
Whilst we agree that it would be inappropriate to portray any group of people in a negative light, it cannot be said that this commercial is doing this. A reasonable viewer would see that this commercial was not targeted at discriminating against a certain group of people and is not at all racist. We are satisfied that the hypothetical “reasonable person” would understand that the skin colour of the actors in the commercial is coincidental to the plot. To illustrate the point one can reverse the roles, if we do this, the commercial message remains the same, meaning that the race of the actors is irrelevant to the plot. We further note that no comment is expressed about any race.
We note that at the end of the commercial views are invited to “Join us at NOEXCUSESA.COM”. The website (https://www.noexcusesa.com/#home) campaigns against women abuse and rallies men to stop women abuse and become “champion man” by taking action against violence in their communities. It is interesting to note from the website that men of various races are featured, and not just black men as alleged in your complaint.
For this reason we are not investigating the matter further based on the complaint currently before us.
Adjudicator: Dispute Resolution
THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY (ASA)
I immediately responded by saying:
Good day Bongiwe
Thank you for your feedback.
Before we jump the gun and make reference to terms that I never used in my origional statement, let me make myself perfectly clear in saying that I did NOT identify the advert as being racist. My complain as stated was that corporates should avoid stereotypes and generalisation in their campaigns. Domestic Violence is NOT an issue that affects black people ONLY. I am well within my right to voice my dissatisfaction with the manner in which black men are portrayed in mainstream media. Now I am very much aware that you’re in no position to tell companies how they should conduct their business but when their conduct is in direct violation of basic civil rights like racial profiling and stereotyping then it’s a course for concern. And I find it highly irregular and disturbing that you would be so dismissive of something that is blatantly obvious. Please refrain from maintaining your position based on a technicality that is clearly bias and unruly. This is NOT a black and white issue. It’s an issue that touches on all races and communities under the sun, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! It is your duty and responsibility as a board to enforce responsible campaigning that does not single out a specific race group as the perpetrators. These are the sort of images that have a negative effect on black families and result in them disintegrating.
With that being said, you’ll have to forgive me but I do not accept your futile response. I will take the matter up with other regulatory bodies who might be in a position to do something much more constructive than the feedback I have just received from you. I will also use this email thread for public opinion so that people can see how our integrity as a black community is compromised to indulge and protect major corporations in their capitalistic endeavors.
So it is clear that ASASA has no interest in protecting the people. They are there to serve the interests of corporations that are detrimental to the progress and well being of black communities. I would like the EFF to address this issue because it is an ongoing struggle that we have been facing for a long time. It is time that somebody puts a stop to this.