The 2022 Olympics Disgraceful Advertising Medals

The Gold Medal of Bad Advertising

and the gold medal for olympic marketing goes to the most tone deaf company.
The 2022 Gold Medal for Tone-Deafness Goes To…. [you’d think it was the year 2000 judging by the ads] Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

The Tone-deafness awards go to this 2022 Olympic marketers who apparently missed MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and the four years of official toxic insults spewing at the most dangerous Americans from its orange haired Dear Leader. (Top Scumbag Americans included but not limited to: Bill Maher, any perceived RINO stepping out of line, and that low paid black woman who counted votes in Georgia Trump personally called out for targeting of death threats who then went into hiding.)

Without further ado, the medal ceremonies.

The third place, The Bronze: Nike. The third place: Nike. This is just not so bad. It uses a young black man who wants to dream big. He’s prepping for a bigot game, a high school game. He wants to be witnessed. Which is a word stolen from black history and used during a black history month. But he really wants to be an egotist and be on every cover or every magazine. He has his friends in mind, as they achieve unstoppable heights, and wants his aunt to be proud of him. But it’s all about his ego, and narrowly defines him. Somehow, I can’t help but think that Nike has some white conglomerate behind him, and it seems slightly exploitative of hard achieved victories for human dignity by repeating over and over again a word I associate with freedom fighters, not sneaker salesmen. It’s not a horrible commercial as the top medalists, and I could be a bit of sensitive, but it gives me pause of seeing a very slick job of framing the dignity of the struggle for equality around a sneaker and dream of not making it to the mountaintop for others but only growing the ego into a mountain.

In second place, The Silver Medal: Smartass Speaker. The super creepy Amazon ad with Scarlett Jo and her beau. What is that about? In one they wake up in bed, and after this couple, using hundreds of thousands of their half billion-dollar collective fortune to protect their privacy, wake up to say I live sleeping in with you, only to have their restful escape from the world after a hectic schedule super creepily interrupted by the new corporate deep state that tracked not only their every breath but the waking smell of their breath. Alexa says, interrupting their tender moment, “Ordering mouthwash. Extra-strength.” In other words, your breath stinks. She tells it to Scarlett Jo, the woman. I suppose it’s supposed to be, er, funny? Like the jealous dog or child jumping into bed. But instead, it’s like jealous girlfriend, whose disembodied artificial intelligence shows up.

Even the shallow Chinese state that facetracks and identifies every citizen once they step outside their house isn’t this invasive. Amazon seriously just outdid China which outdid the British with the London surveillance. They follow with a second failed cutesy add where Alexa sets a reminder to fake your death for Colin after Alexa judge’s Scarlett Jo’s acting to be crap. Total invasive creepville award. I guess Amazon is saying we are so valuable to your life you won’t care we track you and intervene in your life in a way worse than Big Brother in 1984 as they don’t simply track your life and sleep, but interpret your thoughts and relationship, intervene in the private intimate relationships of even the super-rich and super famous to insult and divide them. If Weibo gets hold of this tech, it’s people won’t have any thoughts left of their own as they eat noodles after 6 12-hour shifts assembling this damn device.

In first Gold Medal place: Workday! Yes, the tone-deaf ads keep coming. Here’s a new company that supposedly addresses the workplace, somehow consolidating complex HR issues for small and midsized companies. Full disclosure: I saw the ad muted, with no sound. I watched it when I was picking up take-out, standing in the door of a restaurant across from a big screen. But the images of workers, mostly white it seemed, popping out from cubicles, and throwing things at an older white man and a young black worker was weird and creepy. If I would have heard the sales pitch or explanation from the older white man, I probably would have missed the oddness of throwing things at a young black man who was coming to work in the company. Maybe they were throwing stuff at the boss.

But the physical violence of workers attacking them was not funny for me. I had an incidence like this, and I can tell you the HR would dismiss it, or duck it like the white man was doing while talking. He seemed to be ducking the objects thrown like it was normal, while the young black man was trying to listen to the white man with a contorted look on his face, like What? What’s going on at this place? He must be questioning if he wants to work in a place with violent coworkers. I admit the racist idea was only secondary to the normalized violence, which was abhorrent, but it does add bonus points. Would HR software be needed to solve this issue? Really, wouldn’t common sense stop violence? It doesn’t appear that way.

I would be remiss if didn’t add the honorable mentions during the black history month:

The brief ad for the Disney+ show Loud and Proud. Now I have not watched season one mentioned in the ad, so this may be a really good show. Don’t get me wrong as I’m just judging the perception from a white man trying to be alert during black history month. But my impression was this was Disney taking a big chance by making blacks into cartoons as a cartoon family. Now black Americans may have completely made it, and it may be funny, but my impression was this show also allows young white children to laugh at black stereo types by showing blacks as loud and talking in some mock Jefferson’s semi-ghetto-ish accent, prolonging a derogatory image generated during the crack era in the late 90s of gangster poor ghetto blacks but decent in a decent hardworking bumbling Simpsons’ way. They even threw in a Tyler Perry Madea grandmother rip-off. (Maybe it’s his creation and not a stolen trope for all I know, but Perry seems to aim at a black audience who gets it and not at white children watching a reductionist trope.)

Don’t get me wrong, the more I think about here on the page, the more I think perhaps there was good intentions by this mega corporation by trying to be more diverse and inclusive. After so much success with Aryan Scandinavian princesses Elsa and Anna in Frozen, it just makes sense. If I recall correctly, the one Disney black princess was in New Orleans and had to literally kiss a frog during the Jim Crow era.

So, I’m sticking my neck out on that one. Disney could just be attempting to not be tone deaf and the show might be funny for blacks. I haven’t seen it. I should stick my criticism to what I did see, like the live shot of the kids at the ski academy school watching Mikaela Shiffrin on her super G run. No, it’s not an ad. Sadly, it didn’t qualify for a medal. Just an observation that all kids in that school were white and safely tucked away by parents mostly rich. Downhill skiing looks to be a sport that is still all white, where not a black is in sight, and these kids can stay in the last safe bubble of rich white privilege. Ah, the downhill skiing prep school. The safe haven’s safe haven.

There were other notable runner ups, like the NFL Caesar’s ad that promoted gambling (“responsibly”). The woman did no talking as she sat next the black man doing the most outrageous talking and sitting next to the Manning brothers. They were all surrounded by the media. This woman was clearly ta sexual fantasy prop, dressed as Cleopatra or some Egyptian princess in a dress made to show her breasts. It was a clear signal that the only woman in the room was merely a showpiece with the mid cleavage exposed, and when spoken to just nodded her head and kept her mouth sealed shut in a bizarre way that made it look like her lips were literally glued together. After the MeToo movement and all the sexual harassment issues, the NFL clearly believes and promotes that women are sexual objects to be silent and ogled at. So much for the NFL hiring more women to clean up their misogyny problem but still doesn’t understand what good “optics” are not making women pure silenced sex objects in their ads. It’s not just about jobs.

It’s not all bad-ish news of botched attempts. Representation in the media has improved. Will Smith’s show Bel Air looks serious for NBC who got it right here. So, intentions to assist blacks are noticed at least once, and could lead at this rate to reparations in another 100 years.

At least Comcast got it right and invested a billion in black education if you go by add with their Olympic Project UP ad. For that brief moment, it looks like an overly rapacious near monopolist company is doing good in the world and helping educational diversity during black history month after overcharging me by twice what I should pay in my monthly bill in an unregulated duopoly that controls out internet and all our communications. At least they got the imagery right though.

Now if we can just get the federal government to distribute equal money to every school age student in the real education world that recognizes each individual’s worth in potential instead of each home’s worth.



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Bren Kelly

Bren Kelly


Engaged in new Ideas and old Inequalities, putting the system back into systemic, born on the 50th Anniversary of Women's Lib Day, still seeking injustices.