How on earth this racially insensitive ad was greenlit is beyond me. Ancestry deserves the backlash they received, considering how tone deaf and history-ignorant it is. Which doesn't say much for a brand who touts its skills at uncovering stories from the past.
The sad thing is, Ancestry's strategy is brilliant; one could indeed uncover endlessly fascinating stories from the past--provided they were real.
This type of incredibly stupid execution inadvertantly reveals the two biggest reasons for even using such tests in the first place. Popularities of companies like Ancestry and 23&me have always seem to feed into the inherent narcissism of people who think they are so important they simply must be related to someone important, too. This Key and Peele parody of Ancestry sums it up nicely. You never know who you might be related to but it might be Thomas Jefferson.
The second reason of course is the classic guilty white mostly liberal type who is either looking to atone for the sins of their great great great grandfathers by proving victimhood-- "I'm 1/4 of a percent African American, so I know what it's like to suffer, sister," -- or use it as leverage in a society that increasingly rewards identity over merit: "This test proves that because I am a thousandth of a percent Native American, I not only get the oppression pass, I can also use it to get into an Ivy League school."
To wit, this spot sucks. But so do the people who use the company to prove their worth.
Ancestry.com has now pulled the ad, and given this statement:
"Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history," the company said in a statement to CBS News Thursday.
"This ad was intended to represent one of those stories," the statement said. "We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube."
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