I was wrong. Sales at Metro were up 22 percent to nearly $1 billion in Q1 2010, the period in which the campaign kicked off. Racism works, apparently.
Tellingly, MetroPCS has turned off the "comments" section on its YouTube channel, which I suspect is because it would have filled up with people wanting the ads removed from the airwaves.
There are seven ads in total, and the jokes within them revolve around cows, donkeys, cobras, mongooses, snake charmers and other things that Westerners think you can see a lot of in India. One of the new ads can't even get its racism right: At one point, Ranjit exclaims "Holy shishkabob!" Kebabs are, of course, a Middle Eastern, not Indian, food. Metro's ad chief defended the ads:
"There have been many positive responses by people who find the commercials humorous, as it was originally intended," Bob Fant, vice president of advertising and brand development at Dallas-based MetroPCS Communications, told me in an e-mail. "There also have been some reactions from those who have taken offense. The positive reactions have heavily outnumbered the negative ones."That's hard to believe. A search for "metropcs racist commercials" on Google now returns more than 10,000 results. Not everyone is buying the "can't you take a joke?" line:
Vijay says: How funny -- a commercial that brings Indians and people who can't stand Indians together in common loathing.You can see more examples of people complaining about the ads here and here and here and here. As one BNET commenter put it:
orion6642: Blacks and Jews would not put up with this type of commercial. Just imagine 2 yamulke-wearing Hasids dancing to klezmer music. Would never, ever happen.Orion is right: Indians in the U.S. have traditionally been less militant when it comes to complaining about racism, which is one reason MetroPCS is able to continue to delude itself that it's doing nothing wrong.
- Is Toyota's Use of White Rappers in a Minivan Ad Racist?
- Tired of Racial Stereotypes in Advertising? The U.K. Has a Cure for That.
- Denny's "Irish Famine" Ad Raises Ghost of Past Racial Scandal
- White People Removed from Big Oil Climate Change Ad
- Is MetroPCS's New Commercial Racist? Many Say "Ranjit and Chad" Are Indian Tech-Help Stereotypes
- Is the New Pine Sol Ad Racist?