Advertising and Intertextuality: Controversial Ads

Too Close for Comfort?

This Vogue cover from 2008 created a great deal of controversy and received a lot of media coverage as critics argued that it perpetuated age-old racial stereotypes. Arguments cited its shocking similarity to an American World War I-era propaganda poster dating from around 1917, which depicts a German soldier as a “mad brute,” a dark gorilla stepping onto the US shore, carrying the ravaged Liberty and a club with the words “kultur” and “militarism” written on it.  The intertextuality evident in Vogue’s cover changes the way we read it as a visual text.

Intertextuaity: A World War I-era propaganda poster and the controversial Vogue cover from 2008, feat. LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen.

More recently, Nivea’s recent ad campaign raised quite a lot of debate about whether or not we’ve come as far as we think.

Nivea's recent ad campaign was criticized by many for its racist message.

Compare the message and image in Nivea’s contemporary ad above to some of the ads from  “Top 48 Ads that Would Never be Allowed Today.” Do you see any similarities? Any differences?

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