Friday, March 16, 2007

(Ir)responsible Advertising

I missed my chance during the ad campaign to write an editorial, so I will write here. While I am looking for a copy of the ad, picture one of their ads if you will. The VodaCom Celular phone service VodaMillionaire Contest! The advertisement is tinted in gold. A man and a woman are poised regally…he on a throne-like chair, she draped on him. They are wearing glittery clothes and displaying a rich, sedentary life- lounging around. The message is that if you win the million shillings (less than one thousand US dollars) this life can be yours! Why not a picture of a woman using her winnings to pay her nephew’s school fees or a man getting his wife the heart operation she needs?

What is development? Spreading ridiculous values of abundance and over- consumption? An ad for the casino (yes, CASINO) in Dar features ONLY white people in tuxedos and fancy gowns. The message here is, if you come here, you can play with your money like the foreigners! Who is coming up with these ads and do they live in the same Tanzania that I do? And don’t get me started on the dangerous skin bleaching products, and advertisements featuring only light skinned blacks. Advertising is such a powerful ………and potentially dangerous tool in development. When I hear people singing jingles, I warn people here…….keep your mind to yourself while you still can. There are still relatively few jingles out there in Tanzania, but they are spreading like a fungus….

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