Racist advertising: bet you won't see that again?

There was an outcry earlier this week when it was discovered that Microsoft had digitally altered a publicity photograph by superimposing the head of a white person onto a black person's body. Now to add to the bizarre story, gambling website Paddy Power has started taking bets on how racially diverse the upcoming Office 2010 advertising campaign will be.

As reported by Long Zheng at istartedsomething, Irish bookmakers Paddy Power are capitalising on the press that the controversial behaviour has gained. The company say that they think the "gaffe must have resulted in plenty of red faces in Microsoft" and that Microsoft themselves will be "ultra careful not be [sic] offend anyone" and have placed the "most likely option" of the mix of models or actors fronting the major advertising campaign to be white, Afro-American and Asian at odds of 11/10.

The photoshopped image behind all this was first spotted on Tuesday by Engadget and showed that, on the Polish version of Microsoft's website, a promotional graphic had been altered from the version on the American site, presumably to appeal better to the Polish market. In the image a white man's head had been edited onto a black man's body, although the black man's arm and hand had been left unchanged. Microsoft has since apologised for what they called a "marketing site photo mistake" and changed the image on the Polish site to the original version.

Here is the full list of odds from Paddy Power's press release:

  • 11/10 - White, Afro-American and Asian
  • 9/4 - White and Afro-American
  • 4/1 - White only
  • 6/1 - Afro-American only
  • 8/1 - Asian only
  • 10/1 - Afro-American & Asian
  • 12/1 - White and Asian
The bet is listed as "novelty" on the Paddy Power website.

Please note that Neowin does not encourage or condone gambling (or racism for that matter) in any way.

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Advertising has always been manipulative. Why should it regard race any differently? Marketing is responsible for trying to appeal to anyone no matter how low they have to go and how sleazy they have to be.

> There was an outcry earlier this week

I'm aware the story was reported, but I'm not aware of any so-called "outcry".

Actually, not having them in the poll makes more sense for Paddy Power.

With the way the bets are worded, if MS decides to put a latino in, all bets are off and they get to keep the money :P

Congratulations to 'Paddy Power' (a company which till now I'd never heard of) for not only seeing the funny side of it, but also concocting a brilliant marketing maneuver based on Microsoft's misfortune. Someone there deserves a raise.

I am disappointed that Microsoft bowed to pressure and reverted the image BUT at the same time... shame on Microsoft for taking the cheap and nasty route, they're a massive company that can easily afford to pay someone for another image (or pay people to sit for another photo).

TV adverts that have clearly been dubbed also really annoy me, and this lame photoshop should be taken to the same degree of insult as a badly dubbed TV advert (not due to racism, but due to them being so cheap towards Polish people).

So while everybody is crying over such a pathetic issue, my opinion is that Microsoft kinda deserve the bad publicity that they got, for being so cheap not racist.

I know you wouldn't make a good boss then.

You're saying photoshopping some guy (what $100-$200? not even) onto someone else's head is not better financially by hiring another three individuals, setting it all up, makeup, clothing, etc.? Give me a break.

neoxphuse said,
I know you wouldn't make a good boss then.

You're saying photoshopping some guy (what $100-$200? not even) onto someone else's head is not better financially by hiring another three individuals, setting it all up, makeup, clothing, etc.? Give me a break.

perhaps it is not better, even financially, when you consider the public relations issue it could have avoided. plus i doubt they took the photo themselves, more likely they'd only have had to buy a different stock photo.

i agree completely with Jelly2003.

neoxphuse said,
I know you wouldn't make a good boss then.

You're saying photoshopping some guy (what $100-$200? not even) onto someone else's head is not better financially by hiring another three individuals, setting it all up, makeup, clothing, etc.? Give me a break.


Being a good boss requires foresight and common sense.

What was done with that image was not racist. It was simply marketing to an individual group of people. Advertising should be fit to the target market. In Poland for example, you would want pictures of faces that your target audience would identify with. If there are no black people in Poland then it wouldn't make sense. Also if you are marketing to say a country in Africa that is mostly black, you probably wouldn't put a bunch of white people's faces on there.

Brill said,
What was done with that image was not racist. It was simply marketing to an individual group of people. Advertising should be fit to the target market. In Poland for example, you would want pictures of faces that your target audience would identify with. If there are no black people in Poland then it wouldn't make sense. Also if you are marketing to say a country in Africa that is mostly black, you probably wouldn't put a bunch of white people's faces on there.

That is rascist. You are saying that you should remove a black man, because it will market better. There is definately an element of rascism in there.

I do think this story is a huge hullaballoo, but hilarious none the less. Has Microsoft even responded to this, maybe if they explained the problem, rather than keeping quite, we would not still be reading about this.

cakesy said,
That is rascist. You are saying that you should remove a black man, because it will market better. There is definately an element of rascism in there.

it's not racist. do you even know what racism is?

"Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism)

this is simply targeted marketing. every international company does it, so that the campaign feels more relevant to the locals. when i see some ad on tv that is clearly the same ad they ran in america, it puts me off. people don't speak like that here, they don't look like that here, there are cultural differences. a campaign like that only serves to alienate people and as a result is ineffective.

this does not indicate any belief that one race is genetically superior to another, only that one race is more contextually APPROPRIATE than another.

it's this kind of kneejerk "RACISM!" response that results in everything promoted through the media having to contain a ridiculously (read "artificially") diverse assortment of racially representative actors, just so the producers can't be called racist. and when i see something like that it doesn't feel real, it feels plastic and soaked in american politics.

i think that having a fake face photoshopped into a picture is alot more plastic than having the artificial diversity of actors...
i think they could have just used the same picture from the beginning (like what they are doing now), personally i would just see it as an American product so the people in the ads are American...
and yeah i agree that if they want to target a specific region, they have to do it properly or they will come off as insulting

Brill said,
What was done with that image was not racist. It was simply marketing to an individual group of people. Advertising should be fit to the target market. In Poland for example, you would want pictures of faces that your target audience would identify with. If there are no black people in Poland then it wouldn't make sense. Also if you are marketing to say a country in Africa that is mostly black, you probably wouldn't put a bunch of white people's faces on there.

+1
this is what i thought too. if say M$ wants to promote something in Asia, i would expect them to have pix of mainly Asian people and not White/Black.
This photo in question is not racist at all, and the media HAD to make something out of it. OMG they removed a Black person it's racist! ya? i bet if they shopped the Asian no one would have said anything. The author at Engadget is the real racist in this case.

Brill said,
What was done with that image was not racist. It was simply marketing to an individual group of people. Advertising should be fit to the target market. In Poland for example, you would want pictures of faces that your target audience would identify with.

Agreed. In USA you probably won't see Microsoft's "empower Your people" adds which can be described as: Abdul, Sadam and unidentified woman in burka...

It's amazingly sad what some people come up with to entertain themselves. Too bad "finding a job" is so low on the list. Oh well, betting on the featured races of a comapny's future advertising campaign doesn't exactly shine on a resume.