In the Blog


April 8th, 2009     by Cate Simpson     Comments

I don’t know if these ads have been showing up in other cities in Canada, but Koodo Mobile’s ad campaigns are really starting to irk me.

First of all, they ran that line of ads with fat-hating taglines like “Lose that chubby contract,” “Fat-free mobility is here” and “Say bye-bye to bill blubber,” along with pictures of people in exercise gear just in case we didn’t get the message.

Their latest ads show people with huge mouths and glinting white teeth shouting the company’s slogans. Which would be one thing, except the people in these ads are disproportionately black.

Is it just me, or do these caricatures bear a striking resemblance to the old cartoons that depicted black people as having enormous mouths and lips and dazzling white teeth? I have seen a few ads with white people in them too, but it looks suspiciously like someone tacked them onto the campaign as an after-thought. What also makes the preponderance of black people in this set of ads suspect is that Koodo’s previous campaign didn’t feature a single person of colour.

The images become particularly troubling when you put them in the context of Koodo’s purposefully ugly aesthetic. They used people in brightly coloured retro workout gear for the first set of ads, and the people featured in this set all have traditionally unsexy qualities: huge glasses, ginger hair, bad haircuts, braces.

So what are we supposed to make of those afro’d black folks in bad sweaters? Is it just equal-opportunity geek-hating, or is Koodo taking their retro shtick too far?

Tags: body politics, race and racism

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