Last Tuesday, we were alerted to a growing thread on Facebook about a Bayo ad compaign highlighting the racial mix of their endorser Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Much of the uproar was also caused by the prose written beside the photo.
Discussions have gone from passionate defense of Pinoy pride, implications of racism, to accusations that the ad is promoting prostitution. Then there are those who merely point out how the writing poorly transitions from the mixing of races into the mixing and matching of clothes. The text is open to multiple forms of misinterpretation.
The campaign itself is very different from what we’ve become used to from a brand that has always had a Filipina championing its products, even with the growing slew of foreign celebrity endorsers working the local circuit. Lea Salonga and KC Concepcion are the better known faces of Bayo; many of you will also recall how Kat Alano’s career skyrocketed when her moody billboard photo had everyone asking who that pretty, curly-haired girl was.
A conversation with Pinky Estrebillo of BAYO last Tuesday night revealed that their team didn’t expect the public’s reaction to the ads. They had not intended anything malicious with the ads, which were actually meant to “celebrate uniqueness no matter what your mix.” They have since issued the following official statement:
“We, at BAYO, deeply apologize for the message our campaign—“What’s Your Mix?”—has unintentionally conveyed. We would like to express our regrets to those who have been offended or felt discriminated against. Our company and our partners have always taken pride in being pro-Filipino as we continue to celebrate our uniqueness and achievements. We believe that being a Filipino will always make you 100% beautiful.
It is unfortunate that this message got lost along the way. We thank everyone who has shown support for our thrust of promoting Filipino beauty, talent, and creativity.”
This round of ads is actually the first of a three-part series. Pinky told us that the second wave playfully highlights the mixes within Filipino lineages, like being part Davaoeña and part Manileña, or being 50% Ilonggo and 50% Waray. Think of it as a celebration of cultural and racial diversity, something that’s growing in strength even on the global front.
Those who have come to the defense of this mishap online say that hating the ad doesn’t mean you have to hate the brand. What you have here is a 100% Filipino brand that has stumbled along the way but is picking itself up and moving forward.
This is another big example of how important it is to really think, compose, and review before putting anything up, whether it’s on the world wide web or the great big metro.