South Korean Company Cancels Racist ‘Africa’ Cigarette Ads With Monkey Imagery

October 28, 2013  |  

File this into news that is beyond offensive.  South Korea’s largest tobacco company, KT&G, was selling a line of cigarettes called “This Africa,” using an offensive advertising campaign to market the brand, reports Agence France-Presse (via The Grio). The ads, which were launched this fall, featured a monkey dressed as a human, according to . The ads promoted cigarettes dried and roasted in “traditional” African style and had the slogan, “Africa is coming!”

As a result, the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) issued a recent statement calling for the ads to be removed.

An official from an international organization (who didn’t want his or her group to be named) told the Korea Times that the image is “blatantly racist and depreciative,” especially coming from a region that went through colonial humiliations under Europeans’ rule for many years.

“Anyone who has the most basic knowledge of the painful history of the African continent during the slave trade should know the justification of which the European colonialist worked under,” the official said. “People from the African continent were considered as sub humans that had the knowledge and capabilities of monkeys. How selfish it is if you think about how easily we Koreans are enraged with the slightest belittlement of our background and culture from other countries?”

Following complaints, KT&G decided to replace the advertisement with a new one by the end of October.

“The negative reactions were totally unexpected as nobody raised the racism issue during the design process,” an assistant manager at KT&G’s public relations office told the newspaper. “To calm controversy, caused by the company’s unintended message, KT&G is making a new advertisement.”

But the company currently has no plans to change the cigarette’s package or name. A clip from Huffington Post live, below, has more detail.

Image above via Shutterstock

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