Wednesday, 18 July 2007

UNICEF Ad Campaign on Africa May Be Symptomatic of Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECA)

Adrianne George, of the Black Women in Europe AfroSpear Blog, has brought to our attention an instance in which color-aroused decision-making has led to disgrace for individual employees and for an international non-government organization whose purpose is supposed to be to help Black people rather than insult and demean us.

This UNICEF ad campaign is an example of where the color-aroused antagonism of individuals within a corporation (UNICEF) has caused a major international embarrassment for the corporation itself?

The question arises whether this color-aroused antagonism is so widespread within the corporation that it really represents the position and policy of the entire corporation. That is precisely what Adrianne George has sought to discover by contacting UNICEF directly, to see whether it will screen and offer appropriate services for its workers who show signs of Extreme Color Aroused Disorder (ECA) or, alternatively, endorse the workers' behavior and thereby demonstrate that the UNICEF as an organization is an ECA-aroused organization?

Adrianne George has contacted UNICEF and their response will help to distinguish whether this reflects a group of individuals within a corporation manifesting color-arousal, or the entire corporation itself.

I think that if the corporation takes this seriously and realizes that this campaign has damaged it reputation and credibility, the corporation will want those responsible for this campaign to be screened, and then diagnosed and treated where appropriate for Extreme Color-aroused Disorder (ECA).

We strongly suspect that the disorder is "extreme" in this case, because the behavior includes insulting strangers unprovoked (always a symptom of an extreme disorder) and because the behavior has led to significant negative professional consequences for individuals and also for their corporation. They are being discredited. If someone who was under the influence of alcohol insulted strangers unprovoked and this caused themselves and their corporation to be discredited, we would certainly suggest that person be screened for alcoholism.

As such, the people responsible for this color-aroused UNICEF campaign really do need to be professionally evaluated for Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder.


Black Woman in Europe said...

Hej Francis, here's the latest: Hello everybody,

UNICEF Germany seem to have erased the link to the mentioned campaign from their homepage.

The new link is here:

Until it isn't clear that the actual campaign (posters and ads with these images and "quotes") will be stopped for good and not be published in the future as well, I strongly suggest we continue explaining to UNICEF Germany and the advertising agency how we feel about their social skills and why blackface is never a good idea.

The importance to me actually does lie in explaining why this is wrong, because in Germany it is really not clear at all why the campaign is offensive. The UK and US experience can help explain and get the point across, so that in the future this won't be just "one example of a bad campaign" but it can be generalized why the means of "blackface" and "white kids speak for "african" kids" (a.s.o.) is not okay.

UNICEF-employes in the UK and US: please do explicitly explain to agency Jung von Matt and UNICEF Germany, what is wrong about this campaign, thank you.


Black Woman in Europe said...

Francis, here is another update:

Dear Mr. Dalzine,

Thank you very much for your letter and your comments on the advertisment
for our "Schools for Africa" initiative. Please let me try to explain
context and message of the ad.

The German Committee for UNICEF has started a campaign to promote
child-friendly schools in six African countries in late 2004. This campaign
aims to raise awareness on the fact that nearly half of all children in
Africa lack even primary education.

With funds from private donors, since then 350 schools have been repaired or
newly constructed. In addition, several thousand teachers were trained and
school management improved. In total, some hundred thousand children and
young people have benefitted from this campaign since 2004.

The right to education for all children is a prerequisite to develop their
full potential and a basis for social and economic development. But still
many governments - including the G8-countries - do not stick to their
promise in the so-called "Millennium Declaration" to reach "education for
all" until 2015.

We therefore tried to bring the issue up to the agenda of the G8 summit
which took place in Germany in June this year. One element of our advocacy
work was this ad which was developed pro bono by Jung von Matt.

The idea behind is that children from Germany demonstrate their solidarity
with children in Africa by showing up with a coloured make up. Their message
is: "Children may look different but are equal - we all want to go to
school." Absolutely no connotation of black children as "dirty children" was

Before publishing the ad, we had carefully discussed possible
misinterpretations and the agency had also tested public reaction in a
survey in Germany, without receiving negative comments. Neither did we
receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication.

The ad was published in a few high-quality print media like Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Zeit, Stern, free-of-charge. These media
had never volunteered to publish the ad if they would have expected a
negative connotation. Obviously, the perception of the ad varies by country.

There are no plans to promote the ad further as it was explicitly developed
for the G8 summit. Your remarks have caused us to drop it from our website.

We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children. Please
rest assured that we take your remarks very seriously and will consider them
in any further communication.

Thank you for sharing your comments with us.

With kind regards,

Rudi Tarneden

Press Officer

German Committee for UNICEF

Hoeninger Weg 104, 50969 Koeln

Phone: +49 (0) 221-93650-235
Fax: +49 (0) 221-93650-301


Web: **

M said...

The reason so many Black Americans and Black American expatriates are upset by it is that white people in "blackface" speaking for us illustrates a very painful time in African-American history.

It's good that you use some native German children to get some additional people on your side of the cause, truly. However, it might have been just as effective to have a German child playing with an African child, and say the same thing, and certainly not as offensive.

However, I'm happy that you explained the posters better. If I might presume to make a suggestion - it might be a good idea if you were to communicate with other officers in UNICEF when developing campaigns to be sure that this sort of misunderstanding doesn't happen.