Heineken pulls beer ad after Chance the Rapper complains of racism

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Heineken beer bottles are seen at a bar in Monterrey, Mexico June 20, 2017. Picture taken June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Beer maker Heineken (HEIN.AS) said on Tuesday it had withdrawn an ad for a calorie-light beer after musician Chance the Rapper called the commercial “terribly racist.”

In the latest example of a company misjudging its marketing, Heineken said it was pulling the video ad for Heineken Light from all global markets.

“While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer, we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns,” the company said in a statement.

The video commercial, with the tagline “Sometimes, Lighter is Better” showed a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken Light past a number of people of color, before it reaches a light-skinned woman.

The decision to withdraw followed Twitter comments by Chicago-born Chance the Rapper that gained a wide social media following.

“I think some companies are purposely putting out noticably racist ads so they can get more views.
“I gotta just say tho. The “sometimes lighter is better” Heineken commercial is terribly racist omg,” the Grammy-winning singer tweeted on Sunday.

The “Coloring Book” singer said he was not advocating a boycott, adding “im just noticing how often it happens.”

Heineken said in its statement that it had a long and “positive track record for creating marketing that shows there’s more that unites us than divides us.”

It says its Heineken Light beer has just 99 calories.

Several companies have suffered accusations of racism in recent advertising. In January, fashion company H&M apologized for a poster that showed a black child modeling a hoodie that had the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” on the front.

Last year, Pepsi pulled an ad featuring American model Kendall Jenner after complaints that it trivialized civil rights protests by Black Lives Matter, and beauty product maker Dove apologized for a video that appeared to show a black woman turning into a white woman after using its soap.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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