As racial tensions have intensified over the last few years in the United States, it is surprising the route that Verizon Wireless has gone with their most recent ad campaign featuring Academy Award winner, Jamie Foxx.
Foxx plays the dashing new spokesman for cell phone company while comedian Jayson Ward Williams impersonates Foxx as his “less attractive” equal, in the same exact ill-fitted suit and different colored tie, making them almost look like a 1960s Motown group. In a later commercial (shown above) another comedian, this time representing T-Mobile in the same outfit and again made to look less attractive than Foxx by wearing an ill-fitted suit, implying the superiority of Verizon and their coverage.
The problem is, that there have been many jokes made through the 19th and 20th Centuries that all Black people look the same. Foxx is clearly displeased with his impersonators and their claims to be him or at the very least, his equal, but the underlining factor is the implication. All Black people look the same.
So the questions remain:
Is That Racist? Yes.
Was it intentional? Probably not.
Has anyone else noticed the probably unintentional yet still offensive to some commercial? More than likely.
Race will continue to be a hotbed topic until people are willing to have an open discussion about how it effects all groups. Although it was probably unintentionally racist and the notion in getting an Academy Award winner to represent your phone company was the bigger motive, it still fails in comparison to the DirectTV commercials where the celebrities challenged the quality of cable by poking fun at themselves, i.e. Rob Lowe vs. Extremely Hairy Rob Lowe.
Hopefully, Verizon pays more attention to the content of their commercials next go around instead of being irate that their former spokesman’s no compete clause ended and Sprint was smart enough to snatch him.