african-looking supermodels = environmentally friendly?

20 Sep

This DHL ad is strange enough in terms of its message, below:

Vivienne has a finger on the pulse and an eye on the planet. Just like us. Being on the cutting edge of fashion, Vivienne Westwood demands excellence, but not at a cost to the environment. That’s where DHL comes in.

But the choice of the photograph is what really startled me. Sure, coincidences happen, but ad collateral is chosen with considerable thought and I can’t help but suspect that the choice of an image with two black models behind Vivienne is somehow supposed to emphasize her environmentalist credentials. Something along the lines of African people = natural, pristine, romantic earth people. There’s a paper for a media studies undergrad somewhere in here.

Suggested reading: Edward Said, Antonia Gramsci, Stewart Hall

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One Response to “african-looking supermodels = environmentally friendly?”

  1. zuzka September 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    This BBC article from 2005 talks about the romanticization of non-white others in the context of a controversy around an “African culture” exhibit in a German ZOO.

    This quote by Norbert Finzsch is particularly relevant to what I noted in the DHL ad:
    “The way Africans and African Americans in Germany are perceived and discussed, the way they are presented on billboards and in TV ads prove that the colonialist and racist gaze is still very much alive in Germany,”

    I have a feeling this is not a Germany-specific problem.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4070816.stm

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