Put that Genie Back in the Bottle

Super Bowl Ad Offends Asian-American Community Leaders

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Bill Imada Bill Imada
When two white guys write about an ad that is offensive and insensitive to Asian Americans, you know that progress has been made to raise public awareness about stereotypes that malign an entire community. But we still have a long way to go when it comes to educating advertisers and marketers about what is and isn't appropriate when creating ads...especially during programs such as the Super Bowl, where millions of viewers are tuned in to watch both the game and the highly touted commercials that were produced just for this event.

Two talking pandas promoting an internet site that offers sales leads is one thing. But having those pandas engage in banter with heavily accented English is yet another.

Stuart Elliott of the New York Times was right when he wrote in his article on Feb. 6, "An Ad With Talking Pandas Maybe, but not With Chinese Accents." And Saul Gitlin, exec VP of strategic services at K&L Advertising, was also right when he told me that Asian-American advertising leaders should speak up about ads that hurt the image of the greater Asian-American community.

InfoUSA Chairman and CEO Vinod Gupta apologized for creating the offending Salesgenie.com spots and promised to pull them; however, he created another spot that is also questionable. Both ads should be pulled, not just one.

Despite the fact that Mr. Gupta is an Asian-American executive, the Asian-American community should be the first to speak up when there are marketing campaigns that perpetuate ridicule and negative images of Asians and Asian Americans.

As we join together to celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year, I am heartened by the fact that non-Asians questioned the appropriateness of the SalesGenie.com ads and have talked about them openly with others.

I welcome your comments.

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