JD Sports recently put out their new Christmas marketing promotional video, which has had pretty much everyone on social media talking about it and giving their thoughts. The video featured several notable and familiar music artists, entertainers and footballers from (or based in) the UK including Michael Dapaah, Maya Jama, Bugzy Malone, Jesse Lingard, Virgil Van Dijk, Aitch, Mabel, Stefflon Don and others.
When the video was released, we posted it on our social media and asked people, who else they would have liked to see in it. Since we posted this, we received several replies and quote tweets and sparked a huge conversation regarding the glaring omission of dark skinned women being used in the campaign.
You can watch the full JD Sports advert below so you can see for yourself:
Loads of familiar faces in this brand new JD advert. Who else would you have liked to see? pic.twitter.com/00f8AjHCNg
— SpotlightFirst (@SpotlightFirst_) November 9, 2019
These Companies Know What They Are Doing When It Comes To Campaigns
At this point, we all know that any promotional campaign done by companies of the size of JD Sports, is extremely deliberate and they all know what they are doing. Every time promotional material is done, there are many people that it has to pass through on various levels before it is eventually released, so if it appears that there are omissions in the level of representation being offered, then it is normally done on purpose. You just have to wonder, did no-one watch the video and notice the fact that there were no dark skinned women involved? Or was it another situation where they know exactly what they’ve done and simply don’t care? I’m sure it was the latter.
When you think about some of the dark skinned women that maybe would have fit in terms of suitability and stature for such a campaign, my mind easily turns to the likes of Ms Banks, Lady Leshurr, Nella Rose, Little Simz, Ray BLK , all of whom could have been selected to appear. Question marks have be raised when you see the final video – “Surely they could have used one of these women, right? Is it possible that these women (or other examples we haven’t been able to think of) were ALL unavailable for the shoot..?”
This forces you to consider the more likely scenario: They were in fact not even contacted for the campaign.
JD Sports have long been criticised for their consistent preference of lighter skinned people (and specifically women) in their promotional material and this campaign emphasises and underlines that. When Stefflon Don and Maya Jama are the darkest skinned women in the entire commercial then you know it’s a legitimate issue to discuss, especially when the promotion was clearly made to represent and appeal to our culture. It’s just not good enough.
This Isn’t Something Which Should Be Ignored, There Is Something In It Which Should Be Talked About
Some of the reactions I have been seeing online are ones of dismissal, some mentioning that it isn’t such a big deal and that people should not complain about the lack of representation. But when it comes to promotional campaigns that are done to advertise the brand to their target audiences, it’s not out of the ordinary to expect inclusion and representation of darker skinned women, who are a key demographic of consumers to the brand.
Dark skinned women simply want to see representation of themselves in the media. It’s as simple as that. It shouldn’t have to be negotiated, downplayed or dismissed. If they can include dark skinned men such as Michael Dapaah in the campaign then it should have been a no brainer to include darker skinned women also. But it points to the obvious fact that these companies just don’t care. The bigger picture here is the continuing lack of inclusion to dark skinned women when it comes to marketing, which has been a notable issue for as long as we can remember. Why are we still at a point where the same complaints are being made?
Even beyond that, you can point to the lack of British Asians in the campaign, you really start to see how little care was given in regards to ensuring accurate representation across the board.
These Things Don’t Even Surprise Me Anymore, It’s Just Really Disappointing
At this point I am never surprised at these things that happen because for several years now, many companies have made omissions like this, or have even made questionable decisions with the direction of their campaigns, many of which were done intentionally to spark outrage on social media from people of colour. It’s beyond exhausting at this point and it is really disappointing that we are still at such a point where we need to complain about such glaring omissions in major marketing campaigns.
I hope that the relevant people at JD Sports see the outrage from people on social media in regards to their campaign and make more of an effort to do better in the future.
Let us know more of your thoughts regarding this situation in the comments below.