June 29, 2005

"Life is Color"

In looking for information on a Panasonic ad campaign that I've seen one time too many, I discovered a blog about advertising that mentioned Panasonic's full ad rollout. The ad in question is for their HDTV line, with the tag, "life is color."

If you haven't seen this ad, in one part of it the voiceover asks what the "color of innocence" is. The screen shot is a white house covered in bright white Christmas lights, which then switches to a shot of three young dark-skinned men wearing scruffy clothes and looking away from the house guiltily before driving off in their open convertible.

I don't think much analysis is needed to point out the racism inherent in the copy and visuals. The publication Mediaweek didn't seem to be bothered by it though, naming it one of the best spots of May 2005.

Posted by natasha at June 29, 2005 11:15 PM | Media | Technorati links |

Perhaps you're getting a mite bit jaded? I saw the ad as a glmpse of the universality of us all. The tough guys softened, then saw their veneer pierced, and they tightened up. But the decorations got them for a moment.

Posted by: rwc at July 2, 2005 03:21 AM

Then why not use white Hell's Angels, or similarly dressed white guys? Why not have some jaded, grumpy looking trucker soften up. Or make the Christmas decorations some other Christmas color, like green. But they didn't do those things.

They drew a blatant visual contrast between white innocence and black guilt because they wanted to draw on the easy stereotypes that would automatically be called up in the viewers mind, particularly because no explanation was necessary. Would any viewer have really picked up the message as quickly that these guys were 'tough' if they'd been white teens? A bunch of white teens dressed like gangsters could be upper middle class Eminem fans that remind the target yuppie audience (who else are they selling HDTV to) of their own kids, and thus send an ambiguous message.

How are you getting the viewer to clearly see white as the color of innocence when you follow it with guilty looking white guys turning away, anyhow. It's no more indistinct than the message that the woman in red at the funeral procession sends at the end of the commercial, where you're supposed to associate red with 'defiance,' without the announcer needing to say the word red. That's the whole goal of advertising. To send unmistakeable messages that require no processing by the viewer or listener.

Posted by: natasha at July 2, 2005 02:02 PM