Image courtesy of filipinasinshowbiz.com
A women’s fashion retail brand based in the Philippines has recently pulled their ad campaign, titled “What’s Your Mix?” In the five ads that make up the campaign, mixed-race Filipino models are labeled with percentages (for instance, 50% Filipino, 50% Australian). Beside them, a clumsily written ad copy explains that the Bayo customer is all about mixing and matching: prints with plains, dresses with pants, and nationality with nationality.
The ad copy is mostly innocuous; it advocates for being bold, fearless and unrestricted in your clothing choices, and creating your own look without worrying about trends. No complaints there. And with the right marketing pitch, an ad that applauds ethnic diversity in fashion might have worked too. But one sentence in particular sparked an uproar on Facebook and Twitter: the assertion that “the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filpino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class.”
Image courtesy of yhadz-critic.blogspot.com
Customers of Bayo, who were used to Bayo’s “proudly Filipino” angle, were enraged to see them elevating mixed-race women as a more valuable commodity. The ad seems to imply that being just Filipino isn’t enough; only women of mixed ethnicity can be beautiful, and “Filipino blood” on its own is less interesting and attractive. Some Twitter users accused Bayo of implying that to be more beautiful, Filipino women need a Caucasian twist. It’s hard not to notice that while the ads feature five different mixed-race models (British, Australian, African, Chinese and Indian), they’re all very light-skinned.
Bayo pulled the ads and released an official apology on June 7, claiming that their message was “unintentionally conveyed” and “got lost along the way.” It might actually be an issue of really bad copy writing—a positive message of diversity and individuality ruined somewhere along the way by careless word choice. But it seems more likely that the “What’s Your Mix?” campaign was an ill-advised idea from the outset. And Bayo’s embarrassing blunder might just alienate their most loyal customer base: those 100% Filipino women that are nowhere to be found in their ads.