It is a little embarrassing for Ancestry.com to have run this ad. For it is true that many mixed race couplings during and before the Civil War were based more upon power relationships under slavery than true love. That doesn’t mean that there never were such love stories but missing the point will indeed grate with many watchers.
This is thus not the wisest piece of PR ever:
As is pointed out:
The ad is part of a campaign by Ancestry showing stories from the past to pique viewers’ curiosity about their ancestors. It depicts a white man holding up a ring and telling a black woman wearing Civil War-era clothing that they can be together if they escape to the North. The woman says nothing as the scene fades to black, with the line: “Without you, the story stops here.” Critics pointed out that the ad ignores the fact that mixed race couplings during the slavery era were usually not romantic love stories but instead due to rape and violence against slaves.
However, this doesn’t go on to justify this piece of bandwagon jumping:
M.J. McCallum, creative director of Muse Communications, called the ad “thoughtless,” but said it could happen to any company that doesn’t prioritize having diverse representation in its ranks. “I believe it’s the responsibility of brands and their agencies to foster inclusive environments,” he said. “They must encourage their team members to be open, honest and vulnerable to topics like race and culture.”
Why’s that then?
McCallum said. “Yes, there is always a chance that even the best of intentions will be misinterpreted, but there are reliable resources and skilled professionals available for brands to tap into.”
Those reliable resources including the nice people at Muse Communications who can be hired, for real cash, to do this? Nice piece of touting for work there.
Not that it’s actually necessary. Online contains quite enough people who will fire up a Twitterstorm about any -isms possible, whether they’re actually there or not. Why not hang the workforce diversity thing and let that general commentariat do the work for free? Stick it out there and wait for any reaction. It’s entirely likely that this will be cheaper over time than hiring those committees of offendocrats.