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Jesse Jackson Rounds on Saatchi & Saatchi for “Insensitivity”

News, 13 August 2001


Having humbled the mighty Toyota for its “insensitive” ads featuring black Americans [WAMN: 10-Aug-01], the Rainbow/Push Coalition led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson has switched its attention from the major league to threaten a global boycott of Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency whose Los Angeles unit created the offending ads.

That causing the greatest outrage featured an African-American man with extravagant lips and flashing white teeth, one of which was inlaid with a gold Toyota logo. This, accused Jackson, was a derogatory stereotype of black men, coupling them with gold-toothed ‘gangsta’ rappers. “Saatchi & Saatchi needs to understand the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule,” said the Rainbow/Push Coalition ominously.

US ad agencies in general have been have been criticized for failing to depict blacks as contented, middle-class consumers. But it was not just Saatchi’s work for Toyota that incurred the Coalition’s odium.

Also attracting censure was the agency’s ad for the [now bankrupt] retail shoe chain Just For Feet. This depicted white men in a military-style vehicle hunting, capturing and drugging a black Kenyan runner. Following a broadside from the Coalition, the client apologized, withdrew the ad and roundly blamed Saatchi & Saatchi.

Heads at Saatchi’s Los Angeles office remained below the parapet on Friday with no-one prepared to comment on the Coalition’s threatened boycott.

News source: The Times (London)