Transport for London (TfL) set up a competition with the reward of free ad space across its network for an ad that successfully tackles tokenism, combat stereotypes and challenge the “sometimes superficial” representation of the capital’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. The competition began in 2018, then with a brief for advertisers to better reflect women in the city.
The winner of this year's competition is Nubian skin, an underwear brand that specialises in 'nude' undergarments for people of colour, that is it offers an array of shades instead of just one, with their simple 'A Different Kind of Nude' poster that shows their USP clear as day. Reminiscent of those "Dove real beauty" ads from fifteen years ago that caused quite a stir when seen in US public transportation, this "reality" portrait of regular people posing in their skivvies demonstrates what the brand offers quite well.
Ade Hassan, founder and CEO of Nubian Skin said:
“It’s such an honour to have won this competition. As a small, London-based business it is incredible to know that we will be featured across the TFL system, which in itself carries every day a great representation of the diversity present in London. This campaign is particularly important to me because I feel advertising has a very one-dimensional view of what blackness means, and this allows us to give a broader snap shot of what being black means to different people.”
Vanessa Kingori, Publishing Director, British Vogue, said: “Advertising and its high visibility has a big impact on our lives. At its best, it reflects society in all its diversity, and can shape it. But sadly, all too often we’ve seen Black and Minority Ethnic communities completely misrepresented or not represented at all. I hope brands are inspired by this competition to think more about the adverts they are creating and the authenticity of stories they are telling.”
Andrew Jordan, Partnership Director, JCDecaux UK said: “We are delighted to support this initiative, which aims to reflect the uniquely diverse communities of the Capital, on the streets of London itself. By showcasing authentic portrayals of Londoners on our Digital Out-of-Home screens, the campaign will celebrate diversity and instil pride in communities while they shop, travel and socialise throughout the day.”
Even London Mayor Sadiq Khan congratulated the company for the win, and that's when it all went a bit pear shaped.
Many replying to Sadiq Khan brought up Proteinworld's much-copied "Beach body ready" billboard that also caused controversy and lead to Mayor Khan banning scantily clad women in advertisements in the London Underground. Nothing like getting your model near-naked to get attention, still.
As someone who has dark skin, I'm a bit baffled by this.
How does having brown underwear empower or give me better representation? Never, until I saw this, had I considered the colour of underwear may be disempowering/racist.
Manufactured problems self-imposed by the woke. https://t.co/AqPQNm08A9
— Mercy Muroki (@MercyMuroki) February 10, 2020
I thought advertisements depicting scantily clad people in bikinis and underware was banned by the Mayor of London on the London transport network?
— Thomas Evans (@ThomasEvans1984) February 10, 2020
Black people are Black people, diversity is a mixture of different types, Black people by themselves are not diverse, Why not name it the anyone but white people award, that would be truth in advertisement.
— james rodney taylor (@1axmolly) February 10, 2020
— brian wilmot (@brianwilmot) February 10, 2020