Why Nescafe Dolce Gusto advert is inherently racist

Occasionally I like to get on my high horse about something. This time, it’s a coffee advert that’s boiling my piss. Take a look.

Perfectly innocuous you might think?

Not really.

What I object to in this advert is the subtle undercurrent of racism that permeates throughout it. Let me explain.

OK, in this advert we have three main characters. The African mask, the european bust and the disembodied mouth. The African mask, signifying African culture, speaks first as he spies the coffee machine:

“Is that what they call pop art?

The European bust speaks next

“Oh for goodness sake, there goes the neighbourhood”

Whilst on the surface of this, this utterance can be seen as hostility towards any newcomer, but the origins of this phrase are from disapproval of minorities entering all-white neighbourhoods.

Whist aimed at the coffee machine, the origins of this phrase seem jarring as they are uttered in response to the African mask’s opening gambit.

Then we see the African Mask, unable to contain itself, jumping off the sideboard to get to the coffee first. Implicit here are discourses about people of African origin being unable to contain themselves, acting on impulse and without rational thought. Alongside this we see the ultra-white European bust, as the model of restraint “let’s not rush to conclusions” it chides the African mask, implicit here are discourses of white people being restrained, rational, scientist-like in their thoughts and behaviours. The poor African mask rushes to the coffee, calling the white characters “suckers”, also calling forth discourses of rudeness, being without social convention, and falls of the counter top to it’s peril.

The European bust ruefully sighs “completely off his head” at the African mask, bringing forth discourses of madness and instability of non white communities.

Now, I judge this to be a racist advert, but I also have to acknowledge that I am a white woman and do not wish to speak for any one of African heritage. I am, however, interested in wider societal discourses and how they become socially constructed within communities and how those discourses become accepted and strengthened. I would be interested in any reactions to it from people of any background. I am concerned as to how these subtle messages reinforce unhelpful discourses and affect people’s thinking and interactions.

If you think the Nescafe Dolce Gusto advert is inherently racist, please reblog and maybe people who create such ads can consider how supporting these narratives in society is toxic.

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12 thoughts on “Why Nescafe Dolce Gusto advert is inherently racist

  1. Temporal dissonance! This ad has just started showing down here. The TV companies must have banked on the hardier sensibilities of the gritty Northerners being more likely to ignore the many subtle and not so subtle subtexts and sneaky narratives within. Either that or I haven’t watched much telly lately. I was half expecting the black bloke from the A Team to burst out of a kitchen storage unit clutching a half eaten Marathon bar in one hand and waving an STD in the other and call the alabaster head a ‘foool’ before dashing it to pieces on the flor.* Didn’t happen.

    * Sometimes my os divide and cluster inappropriately.
    ** Hope you have a happy Christmas, dearest Sheds.

  2. i was sent a link to the youtube video and the 1st thing that got me was africans are all music and rhythm and then the there goes the neighbourhood straight after african mask speaks, so i went to leave a comment and surprise, surprise, (not) not allowed,probs coz to many will complain at its blatant racism. at such a time when ukip, edl, british first are on the rise.nice to see someone else seeing through the tomfoolery, but dangerous..

  3. I saw it just now.. so I googled Gusto Nescafe and racist and here was your blog! Well spotted and I don’t think you are speaking for people in minority groups but you and I both spotted the same thing and we are of different ethnic backgrounds. I am glad it isn’t my sensitivity. Your sentiment to re blog or bring attention to it however does differ from my response, mainly because I think the media deliberately reinforce stereotypes, or put the cat among the pigeons to whip up division between people, the same as the news etc…
    Well spotted though and Merry Christmas.

    • Cheers Estelle. I had a bit of a think about it and I agree with your sentiments about media reinforcing stereotypes to whip up division. This is what Michel Foucault would have called ‘dividing practices’ and maintains the power of privileged communities.

  4. No need to get your PC knickers in a twist. The company has made amends in its latest ad, which features a retarded rapper soundtrack.

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