back to article Intel revolted by its own 'insensitive and insulting' ad

Intel apologized this week for a print advertisement circulating around blog-land that some claim is racist. The ad depicts a white man in casual office attire, arms folded and grinning triumphantly between two row of cubicles. The fella is flanked on each side by three spandex-clad black men crouched in a sprinter's starting …

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Anonymous Coward

Oops

I can see this as an oops. A really BIG oops, but innocent nonetheless. I probably would have glanced at the ad and said: "Oh, another moderate quality ad by Intel" if someone hadn't pointed it out.

Of course, since I don't look for racist overtones, I don't typically see them. It seems to me that it could be just an oops.

A really dumb oops, but not an attempt at racism.

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perils of photoshop

It's a guess, but I'm betting this has much to do with photoshop.

If they'd had to find six athletes to photograph for the runners, chances are they would have had a racial mix just by accident. In fact, there are only two men in this picture, the geek/manager and one runner duplicated six times. Somebody excessively geeky no doubt thought more of the symmetry of reusing that one runner than they thought about possible emotional overtones of the juxtaposition.

Though people are less sensitive in this regard, you might find just as much to dislike in this picture if all you considered was workers bowing at the boss's feet.

If they'd wanted clones, they could have used the same person for both the runners and for the manager. Then you wouldn't have had any differences to comment upon. They might have dressed the manager in starter's stripes or coach's sweats, or given him a stopwatch on a strap. Or perhaps the image needed was rowers with the manager as coxwain. But again probably photoshop got in the way. Betcha both figures are stock images.

The moral of the story is, if the medium is more important than the message, you get junk messages. You have to start first with what you want to say, not with what you can do quickly.

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Silver badge

Racist?

Racist? Of course, because only black men can run fast, look sporty or just be fit. Or is that jump?

White men, on the other hand, are unfit geeks (just look at the body posture and belt line).

Racism can be taken whatever way you want it to.

By the same token, it's sexist because there are no women there. Are they not fit enough to run athletically or smart enough to "manage"?

Of course, it was slightly ill advised, not having a "representative" display of the population... but in US media terms that would involve two black people (one male, one female), one chinese female, one hispanic female, one ghastly characterature old person (gender not important) and possibly, just possibly, a caucasian-ish but could be native American, maybe Eurpean possibly Japanase person to "balance" the media view of the US. A quick look through Getty Images will show this kind of media profile very quickly. The US media is usually so keen to show that they don't discrimiate against "minorities" that they instead forget the majority might exist.

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Quit crying colorblind and seeing color yourself.

It is obvious that the black men shown in the add are actually just 2 pictures of one man in duplicate. From an ad designers perspective he was saving money and creating increased interest through pattern. Screw the politically correct idiots who can see nothing but differences in color. It seems that the people at Intel are less racist than everyone who had a problem with this. They are finally getting to where we need to be. Color indifferent. There are 2 men in the picture. Had the color roles been switched it would have created a different issue. Had they been both of the same color; again another issue. It would only have worked if they had all been the same man and that would not have necessarily had the same effect.

Quit crying for everyone to be color-blind and than crying when they don't see skin color.

It is a pretty good add if you can look at it through non-racist eyes.

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Sean Thompson, I wholeheartedly agree

The fact that this ad is _seen_ as racist is the biggest problem here, not the ad itself. The colour of those dudes shouldn't matter.

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Not everything is about racial undertones

Why couldnt this ad just be viewed as an ad? The 'smug white guy' isnt exactly in Klan attire, nor is the stanced athlete 'bowing'. If it wasnt for this article, most people wouldnt have even realised any sinister motives, and that, my friends, is the power of viral marketing.

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Whoops

When your working on something this closely and your attention is on the detail of the message your trying to get across it is easy to miss something fairly obvious like this. But I'm sure someone got the wrists slapped for this one.

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African-American

I heard of an American lady on holiday in Britain who met a black man. She thought in puzzlement for a moment then referred to him as a 'English African-American'.

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Hypersensitive

I understand the article. I don't like the ad. I can see how someone got to these views, but I won't have made this leap. I believe sometimes we are just over or hyper-sensitive too often. Should we be sensitive...yes! However, from my experience working with a lot of people - thousands - from all over the world, Americans are much more sensitive to such possible stretches of the intended meaning(s).

I believe those who are hyper-sensitive are insensitive to the same sensitivity they seek. Those at Intel are not racsists. These PR folks are probably some of the best PR folks who were hired from other companies. A lot of the work probably was contracted out. Companies like Intel expect that those they contract with or the few they actually employ to review these ads do so with the same diligence and quality a fab technician would in their area of the line. If there is a quality lapse, there is NOTHING sinister about that and to jump to those conclusions is outrageous. We need to understand that the vast majority of people go to work everyday trying to do the best they can. Respect that simple fact and give it, just like we would want, the respect it rightfully deserves.

Intel pulled the ad. Superb. Like anything, once it is out of the carton getting every little drop cleaned is difficult to do. Give people (corporations are made up of good people ) a break.

Let's make our small planet a better place! Practice civility and respect daily and often. It starts with each of us.

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Anonymous Coward

What if...

I strive to be 'colorblind' (being a white male), but I have to wonder, would there be any outcry if it were a well-dressed black man standing over white runners? I long for the day when no one can play the 'race card.' I think the 'public outrage' over such things just creates a different kind of inequality--an environment where everyone white has to fear offending someone who is non-white, no matter how innocent the context, while of course no white person can ever be offended, and every commercial and advertisement for all but the simplest products have to have a perfect racial balance to both avoid pi@@ing someone off and make sure it 'reaches' all races. What does this say about the actual state of everyone's thinking, if a person will only consider buying a product if they see someone of their own race happily using it? If anything, the Intel ad shows their impartiality, even if it looks bad, as it apparently innocently made it through every turn without censure.

Bah marketing... I despise it...

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I saw it striaght off.

(Main issue aside)

Although on closer inspection, the spandex DOES seem reminiscent of Wolverines uniform in the pre-movie X-men comic books. Are they saying Wolvering is black? or that black people have super powers.. is the white guy therefore xavier? so does that mean his handicap is a ruse!

ARGH TO MYRIAD INTERPRETATIONS!!!

btw, fairly shocking way to drop the ball there.

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African-American

That's okay. After he won at Indy this June, Lewis Hamilton was described at "the first African-American to win a race at Indianapolis" in several newspapers around the country.

First of all, he's not African-American. Second of all, it's not really Indianapolis, it's Speedway, Indiana. But it's the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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"African-American" revisited

"I heard of an American lady on holiday in Britain who met a black man. She thought in puzzlement for a moment then referred to him as a 'English African-American'."

Not as bad, but from someone that really ought to know better (or at least his editors should): In Angels & Demons, Dan Brown (of DaVinci Code fame) refers to one of his characters, a black Englishwoman employed by the BBC, as "African-American."

On-topic, (and speaking as a non-white male) I think this sort of thing offends no-one but the PC pundits, and distracts from real issues of discrimination.

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Anonymous Coward

position

Would there be outcry if it was a black man with white men in the starting position?

How about if it was a man and women in the starting position? Would the feminisists rise up?

The americans are just hyper sensitive

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Anonymous Coward

*sighs*

Yes, the americans do seem to be hyper sensitive about it.

Around the rest of the world we have black people, but in America your African-American even if your not American. Personally if I was referred to as African-American I'd find that more insulting then being called black, which I'm not.

I my have brown skin, but I was born and raised in London, my parents are from a former British colony and lived in the UK for a few years before I was born, therefore I'm English. End of story.

The ad by intel would be fine across the rest of the world as they are not as senstive as the americans are. Their continued sensitivity just re-inforces the problem though. If they didn't draw attention to it, then it wouldn't be such a big issue.

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RE: Corporations are people too :)

---"Intel pulled the ad. Superb. Like anything, once it is out of the carton getting every little drop cleaned is difficult to do. Give people (corporations are made up of good people ) a break."---

That made me laugh. Obviously you missed the point of the ad.

"Get better computers and you will only need a few clones, soon you won't even need them, just a new Core 8 DualGuadrupalGougleplex."

Intel is not stupid, they know every time they up their performance capability another worker looses a job... so, not only can we make you more productive with out machines, we can keep your employees motivated through fear...

No, corporations USED to be made up of people, now they are predominately computers, a tiny support staff, and a few very rich men who only want to get richer.

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I don't get it?

So I work at Intel (oh no). And you know what, 1. racism? Doubtful, Intel is the complete opposite, trying to hire only diverse candidates (not white men) and 2. what the heck is the ad supposed to mean? I get the multiply stuff of the past, not a bad idea, good music, good colours, etc, but for this ad to mean something to a lowly R&D Engineer, it would need to have a coach on a track with a whistle, not a geek in cubes surrounded by very sleek sprinters. I think Intel had some creative, EXPENSIVE people saying "the colours, light, textures, etc all 'work' ". Get over it, and stop it with the typical American hyper-sensitivity.

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Another option?

How about reading this in a different negative context:

Suppose they started the race. Then, Intel = things crashing at high speeds.

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what if?

So what if the black men had been dressed in white bunny outfits? Would that have been insensitive too? And if so, to whom? The bunnies, or the men wearing the suits? It's gotten so hard to be PC these days...

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Stu

Reminds me of a South Park ep???

It seems everybody sparking the racism controversy need to take a look at Matt Stone & Trey Parkers observations - this is SO much like that episode of South Park where Chef (african-american) and the rest of the town are squabbling with the town mayor about whether to change the town flag.

The flag depicted some white stick figure men standing together overlooking a black stick figure man dangling from a noose on a gallows!

The main children characters ended up being involved in the decision to keep or ditch the flag, and ended up revealing that they didnt even see the split in colours, they only saw stick figure men.

The moral of the story is clear - YOU yourself are promoting racism if you make the separation to begin with. I am sure the advertising company simply didn't even notice the racism slant at all.

The flag ended up being slightly altered to show lots of different coloured men standing together overlooking a black man dangling from a noose on a gallows. One of the stick men overlooking the hanging is black.

*replace the term 'black' with african-descendant above if u r offended!!

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Anonymous Coward

6 identicle sprinters...

just a note since some people missed the point of 6 identicle sprinters. Its not because of a lazy photoshop edit. Its meant to symbolise the multiple and identicle cores of the core chips.

D

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racism is alive and well

It appears from all the shallow "this isn't racism" comments

that you fail first of all to see the ad and second of all to know

what racism is or what it means probably because you are all

too young to remember when it was in fact the law of the land in the

US and pretty much no where else but SA I assure you there are still

people who do remember and they will take offense at this ad

you all should not be so ignorant but apparently you failed to understand

history at school if they bothered trying to teach it to you at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Lazy stereotypes?

"I am sure the advertising company simply didn't even notice the racism slant at all." - and that's the point. Is that how Intel want to portray 'power and control'?

Good on Intel on trying to pull the ad. It's nothing to do with being 'pc' (don't get me started) it's just good business sense. Whether we like it or not, society is not colour-blind and marketing is powerful at reinforcing messages.

Yes - they do want to show the power of multiple cores, but they don't want/need to bring the 'psst - its like having six black men working for you' (whatever that means!) connotation into things. Once you see it, you just can't put the thought back into the box.

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Sean, thank you

Sean i agree totally with your comment, i'm fed up with hearing about PC people complaining about racism when half the time it isn't racist at all. I realised a while ago that i no longer actually see the colour of the person i'm looking at other than an initial observation, beyond that they are just the same, which in my mind means i will hire/fire talk to/ignore by the same criteria. I'm very glad to hear i'm not alone in this.

I couldn't give a crap if a person is white, black or purple with pink polka-dots. This, i think, is the way forward. Racism will only become a thing of the past when we (while not forgetting about the past) stop actively thinking about it. If we simply fail to recognise the difference between people of differing skin colours then and only then will we be truly non racist. i look forward to that day.

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Anonymous Coward

hmm

"So I work at Intel (oh no). And you know what, 1. racism? Doubtful, Intel is the complete opposite, trying to hire only diverse candidates (not white men)"

Haha

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Typical

'Land of free speech' my arse. Are advertisers, comedians and just about everyone not even allowed to make a simple statement without having an entire community/law agency/PC crowd jumping on them? If they had a black and a white man talking, but the white man was smiling, the other looking upset, would that annoy people? There was a time when black people were segregated due to their colour, is that what Americans want again, by constantly indicating potential cases of discrimination?

Talk about heightened sensitivities...

The sheer irony is that if the runners were five photoshop layers of one white man, no one would notice. Selective memory, or convenient racism through absence of skin tone?

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Silver badge

Nowhere to run?

Am I the only one who thinks that these sprinters have got nowhere to run?

As soon as the beaming dude in the middle shoots his starting gun all the guys will slamm into one another and that would be the end of it...

I thought that it was a much greater problem than the colour of the sextuplicated athlete. Would not want a PC with a buggy CPU collapsing on itself, would I?

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Anonymous Coward

PC

If black == african-american, then we should call all white americans european-american , then maybe we could have asian-americans, middle-eastern-americans, and in the future someday we might end up being invaded by alien-americans

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Sam
Bronze badge

offending

I used to work for a UK software company, when I first started they had just landed a large american company as a rather big client.

One of the first things in the project we had to do?

Change all the refences to slave-master relationships in the legacy codes to say parent-child, just in case it offended someone.

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It strikes me that...

...the message I got from this advert was that intel can provide you with *power* - raw power and computing abilities. Make your business work well, harder, better.

I interpreted it as them representing this strength, power, skill etc. of the intel product by showing the black sprinter. He's a sleek athlete, strong, fit, ready to explode into action. He's a sprinter, he has this ability that "normal" people don't have. He can run faster. (he's also multiplied, which is why there are many copies)

They also decided to show the "normal" manager. He's a soft white guy, wearing smart casual clothes. He's not special. He's not large or strong like the "powerful" black guy working for him.

So yeah, it has the black guy "serving" the white guy. Possibly racist. But it also has the black guy representing the strength, power, all the *cool* things that intel are offering. And the white guy representing the soft geek, all the lame things that you are. Except he's smug. He has intel/this black dude on his side.

Strikes me as just as racist. Why is the soft geek chosen to be white? Why is the strong guy chosen to be black? Why is intel implying that black people are sleeker, sexier, stronger, fitter than white people?

Wow, re-reading this comment it really sounds like I'm planning to bat for the other team, doesn't it?

p.s. thanks for the discussion of "black" vs "african american" - I'm Australian but my parents came from South Africa. We are *highly* aware of racism, and I was raised to judge people by their actions not their skin. Even so, I'm never really sure how to refer to black people since the South Africans call them "blacks" and - well - it just seems wrong to take my cue from that. There aren't that many african-australians of black skin tone that I interact with, since we're so multicultural that when you include the greeks, italians, lebanese, indians etc. your chances of running into an african are proportionately reduced. So I've never had someone to take my cue from, considering the other races seem to refer to themselves based on their country of origin. My "indian" friend was born here. Ironically, I did grow up with a black friend. I still didn't know what term to use since I referred to him by name and, in the years I was friends with him, I never had need to refer specifically to his race. Strangely enough, years after we stopped seeing each other, and I'd moved house, I started running into him again, as he started hanging out somewhere that I'd pass through. He would always be with a group of black friends. I never said anything, or asked anything about it, but I did always wonder why. Is it racism? Probably not, he was raised by white parents and never displayed any racism towards me or anyone that I observed. Was he just more comfortable with them? Was it coincidence? Was it that they had something in common, a shared history and culture and pride (despite growing up in Australia)? Was it that he was searching for his cultural heritage? Was it that he suffered racism, and so he sought out a group where he didn't have to worry about that? - so many possible reasons for *his* behavior, there's no need for me to assume that he was racist. And most people wouldn't think twice about his choice of friends. Just seems like I *could* have seen racism in his actions if I was *looking* for it. Same with the intel advert.

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I hate this ad so much

70s brown. Passe

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And if it was the other way round....

If a black man was standing over a pile of white men would anyone have cared, probably not.

You know if you go to most any country in the world outside Europe or the US they really don't get so worked up about things. Indeed alot of them would be considered rather racist in there views and comments about other ethnical groups if they lived in Europe and the US and would probably be locked up.

In Morroco they call black morrocans niggers (not all morrocans mind), and no i don't feel ashamed for telling u so, and in Japan they pretty much think if ur not Japanese ur not that good, great people though love Japan and Morroco all very friendly people :)

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My head will explode with fear.

I have a knee-jerk reaction to simply not believe adverts... in fact I routinely believe that exact opposite!

Thanks a bunch intel: not i will not only be using Athlon in my next upgrade, but I will live in fear of being enslaved in lycra by black people.

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actually maybe not racist but really full of seggregation

I for one think this ad was maybe not intended as racist, but was anyway intended at showing that "some" people cross their arms and be a bit lazy and round (with a very stupid smile on their face), while "some other" people are going to run, and have a body shaped for that very purpose, like most athlets. A very boss vs. employees thing (struggle of classes).

Thus, for me, maybe not racist (I can accept some doubt on that), but tainted with a stupidity as serious as racsim.

The whole point of fast CPUs is to lower the effort of employees to achieve their goals and certainly not to make them sweat and have that superb athlet body shape consequently ! Thus, that ad is a load of s***e by any means.

Or is it the Vista (the preferred OS for core duo) syndrom ?

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Anonymous Coward

re I don't get it? - quite obvious from your comment.

re By Monica 'So I work at Intel (oh no). And you know what, 1. racism? Doubtful, Intel is the complete opposite, trying to hire only diverse candidates (not white men) '

So you are saying Intel is not racist because they only discriminate against white men. Um, actually, if what you say is true then Intel is both racist and sexist. What you describe is often referred to as reverse racism. It is still discriminatory and racist and just as wrong as any other type of racism, and you openly admit Intel is guilty of this? You didn't do intel any favours with your comment.

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Anonymous Coward

PC

"Wall Street Journal, in its write up about the ad, identified the runners as African-American men. Clearly, they are insensitive to the fact that not all black men live in the US."

In the same way America is not the US either: there's North America, Central America, South America... so Canadians and Argentinians, and everyone in between are also Americans!

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Dam

re: offending

"I used to work for a UK software company, when I first started they had just landed a large american company as a rather big client.

One of the first things in the project we had to do?

Change all the refences to slave-master relationships in the legacy codes to say parent-child, just in case it offended someone.

"

----

Parent-child? OH MY GOD INCEST and child porn, quick, change to something else too or the hemo carebears will go after your blood.

I don't know, perhaps something like...

Tree->Seed ?

OH NO WAIT, a seed could be viewed as an unfertilized female egg and thus your project would become sexist because it would claim that females are only good for that, laying eggs...

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Utter Stupidity

How the ad was born:

The runners are computers (hence 1 in each cube)

Their computers (the cases) are black

Thus cast black males as the computer

Throw in random white nerd as the manager

Q: Would there had been an issue if the manager was an asian?

A: No, why? because only whites are racist? Hmm...

You can never "win" an argument over perception. Ever. Perception has nothing to do with reality, fact, or truth ... it's about an individual bias.

The reacation shows more about hating white people more then anything. Again, if the manager had been black, asian, hispanic, or just about anything except white this would not be an issue. But perhaps that just my perception...

Perhaps it speaks more about businesses seeing humans as merely resources rather then humans... another perception...

Was he snearing at the apparently bowing blacks or was he snearing at AMD because their all Intel?

Perceptions will vary and statistically your going to offend someone, somewhere, no matter what you do.

Even the decription of the ad could be criticised. Here in the US we refer to blacks as African-Americans. My buddy Charles always corrected me saying: I've never been there, and have no interest going there. I'm from Minnesota and I'm black last I checked. So no matter what, you're going to upset someone and all you can do, as a business at least, is try to offend the least amount of people. In Europe I woul dbe interested in seeing if the have African-Englishmen, Belguian-Englishmen, or have they eliminated racism and just have Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, etc.

Once again the true fact of human nature emerges, we are governed by perception rather then truth.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Nowhere to run?

Actually, if I remember Intel architecture correctly, the cores would probably end up tripping over each other trying to access a shared cache, so it's actually quite an accurate analogy. Bwhwahahaha. :-)

(OK, I know the more modern/expensive chips don't share cache between cores, but I still thought it was funny....in a nerdy way.)

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What is racism, and what is free speech?

I see some real silly ideas flying here.

If Intel specifically hires non-whites over whites, that's racist. Making a hiring decision based on race is racist, period.

The US government did not make Intel pull this ad. Those bashing freedom of speech in the US because Intel got complaints and willfully pulled the ad are confusing very different and separate issues.

I'd believe someone was overlooking the sensitivity because they themselves didn't see the issue with the ad. It takes some guessing at sinister motives to see racism where none is clearly exhibited. So what's worse? To be insensitive to the idea that other people will be negatively affected by something with no malice intended, or to be sensitive to the color difference when the image meant nothing of the sort to the person who made it?

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Anonymous Coward

"If people can...and stop having such a chip on their shoulder..."

Perhaps that's Intel's campaign---If people are going to have a chip on their shoulder, Intel wants it to be an Intel chip... I know, that was bad... I'm leaving now.

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Anonymous Coward

African Americans Unite

theassimilatednegro.blogspot.com

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Over PC again

Too much political correctness today.

Yes there is a fine line when talkign about Race and colour but is it really a case of raceism or general popular perception.

I dont want to get into the debate that Afro-american/european males are faster runners or what but im sure if they put the top 8 100meter atheletes in the picture instead of actors the image would not change and nothing would have been said.

The more people bring up the "POSIBILITY" of a racial undertone the more its going to be construed as racist. As alot of comments in here have pointed out Noone would have noticed.

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looking for slights

your comment-

"On a related note, we couldn't help but notice the Wall Street Journal, in its write up about the ad, identified the runners as African-American men. Clearly, they are insensitive to the fact that not all black men live in the US".

clean out your head gear register….,,,,,are you aware that Negros in UK and Europe are referred to African American men… I have been to both and heard it myself…...stop trying to find offense where there is none...

oh and the sprinters……..I guess it would have been okay of 4 of 6 were white? Thats laughable...get a life people...

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Silver badge

Double standards

The fact that Intel pulled it's own ad was probably pre-empting the inevitable avalanche of PC complaints that would have ensued if they hadn't.

I also see that several commenters here have noted that if the "boss" guy wasn't white and male there wouldn't be a problem. This is indicative of the very real double standard in Western society where white males seem singled out for demonisation. A woman stabs a man: she was probably defending herself. A man slaps a woman: that's domestic violence. White man in charge: a supremacist tyranny. Black/Asian/Hispanic in charge: an equal-opportunity employer.

Perhaps the most graphic example I ever saw of this double standard was the introductory paragraph in the "Equal Opportunity" pamphlet handed out to all students at our local college. It read - and I kid you not - "Equal opportunity does not mean all people are treated the same." It then goes on to describe how "certain groups" have to be given special treatment to "level the playing field". Ah: this is obviously some strange use of the word "equal" that I was not previously aware of*. I was taught that equal meant "the same as" or "having the same value as". But obviously it actually means that all people are equal, but some people are more equal than others.

Oh, and this was the same college that had sexual harassment warnings in the mens toilets but not the women's, despite the sexual harassment policy stating that it applied equally to everyone. Hmm, there's that weird use of "equal" again.

I'll just pop me coat on now, in case I get arrested for complaining while having the wrong skin colour and external genitalia...

*(Nod to Douglas Adams for that line!)

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and...

There would have to be a good cross section of the population to make this pc: one asian, indian, black, white, females of random races. Don't forget the Handicapped! I can see the ads innocence. If you would like to juxtapose blaxing processor speeds with sprinters, why not use a known superstar. Budgeting I guess. If the black runner was known, would this ad be ok?

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