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"It's about bloody time" reads the cheeky headline. Tesco has just launched its in-house brand band-aid for diverse skin tones, and the smart art direction hides the "bloody" as a clever visual pun. The headline makes it seem as if diverse band-aids have never existed before, and I often come across people who believe this to be the case, but this is inaccurate.
The work was created by Dan Seager and Steve Hall at Bartle Bogle Hegarty London, and the press ad debuted in the Evening Standard and Metro today. The fabric plasters are available at Tesco in three skin tones, light, medium and dark, for only £1.
As for band-aids for darker skin tones, yes that has existed before, the seventies and eighties were a righteous time, my man. More recently, since 2013 you've been able to buy Tru-Colour bandages, available in colours like "Olive-Moderate Brown" and "Dark Brown - Black".
Like the mythical Soul-Aid bandages, it was available mailorder only at the start, selling specifically to schools and clinics, but since 2018 you can find it in all Target shops across the United States.
Now as for Soul-Aid, they say this ad is from a seventies Ebony magazine, and that is the grooviest of brand names, but I haven't been able to independently confirm this companies existence.
What has been confirmed many times over is the rise and tragic fall of the hip brand Ebon-Aide. New York entrepreneur Michael Panayiotis created Ebon-Aid. The orange box read: "The bandage exclusively designed for people of color." This brand name is even better than Soul-Aid. Available in shades attractively named "honey", "cinnamon", "mocha", "coffee", and "liquorice", you could buy a colour at a time or a variety pack.
The rise and fall of Ebon-Aid is well told in The Atlantic, as poor product placement soon killed the ambitious idea and soon enough you could pick up boxes of these for 69cents at the dollar store as he had to rid himself of the supply.
A Cyprus-born father of two, Panayiotis thought he had found a niche market with promising returns when he launched Ebon-Aide. Retail giants from Wal-Mart to Rite Aid agreed to carry his product. "We found out with our market research that between the African American market and the Hispanic market we would capture about 25 percent to 28 percent of the market," he said. "We wanted to do all the first-aid products in black."
But Panayiotis was frustrated by the placement of his product, which usually ended up on separate shelves dedicated to satisfying the needs of Afro-American customers. "If you don't show it to people, how are they going to buy it?" he said.
By late 2002, out of an original lot of 1 million boxes of bandages, he had sold only around 20,000. After losing his original $2 million investment -- including $600,000 to manufacture the product in South Korea and Canada -- Panayiotis' company folded.
He stored his inventory in a 10,000-square foot warehouse, donating the bandage boxes little by little to whoever showed some interest, and selling the last lot to a Miami company. Panayiotis, now 65, has since moved on to run an IT service company.
Panayiotis, for his part, said he felt the market was ripe for his product once more. "Still today, after so many years, I get phone calls and emails by people who want to see it. You're going to see it in the market again."
He was right. Unfortunately, it's not his brand that's now available on the shelves at Tesco, but with premium product placement and a bloody smartarse advertising campaign to go with it, this version may have much better success. TESCO came up with the idea after seeing a viral tweet where a man described his emotional response after using a bandage for the first time that matched his skin tone. "For real, I'm holding back tears" he said.