by Herman Manson (@marklivesOgilvy Cape Town, the agency behind the controversial new Feed a Child campaign, has apologised for giving offence and confirmed that the ad has, in consultation with its client, been withdrawn. The ad showed a wealthy white woman treating a black child like a pet and feeding him bits of food off her plate. In one scene the boy licks her fingers clean. ‘The average feed a childdomestic dog eats better than millions of children,” the ad concludes. It then urges viewers to make a donation to NGO Feed a Child.

Writing on the Daily Maverick journalist Richard Poplak argues that you (or in this case Feed a Child) don’t offer dignity by negating dignity. “The black boy/dog is played by a real child, and although he is acting out a role and (presumably) being paid for it, the set-up feels remarkably like exploitation,” writes Poplak. “All of the power lies in the hands of Feed A Child; the boy’s debasement is the point of the commercial. When we use black children as fodder—as mineworkers or Nike shoemakers or to sell “sustainable solutions” to people with credit cards—the ethical lines fray.”

Luca Gallarelli, Managing Director at Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, says that he is “disappointing that the message has become completely overshadowed by the controversy” as the commercial was “developed with the aim of drawing attention to the important issue of malnutrition in South Africa.”

Gallarelli confirmed that the ad is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa after an official complaint was filed and as a result, and in consultation with Feed a Child, the agency took the decision to stop flighting the commercial.

“While clearly designed to have the viewer sit up and take notice, it was never anyone’s intention to cause offence, but rather raise awareness for what is a massive societal issue in SA,” says Gallarelli. “We do however as Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town apologize to those who found the execution distasteful.”

feed 3 feed 2

The ad can still be viewed on YouTube (but might not be there for long)

— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every three work days. Sign up here!


Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

2 replies on “Ogilvy apologises for, withdraws controversial Feed A Child ad”

  1. On the contrary, the brilliance of the ad is its grotesquely offensive portrayal of the (black) child as a dog in a (white) middle class household.

    We don’t like the ad because it makes us uncomfortable, and shows a truth in such a way that disgust us. You cringe when you watch the ad. But is that not the point? Is that not the message being communicated here? Is the sensitivity expressed in the abovementioned article not misplaced? The problem is not in the video but the society that is reflected in the video.

    What we need to be careful of here is the difference between the issue and what the advertisement makes us feel. We must differentiate between something we believe to be in bad taste — something that offends our sensibilities — and something that perpetuates or corrects a wrong through its communication.

    Why I believe the ad achieves its objectives without any ‘ethical casualties’ (or, at least, no major casualties!) is because its message discourages something thought to be undesirable. It worked in this particular case even though it did raise a number of eyebrows.

    We must understand what the function of the advertisement is, and the context from which it comes, and then judge it accordingly. Even though this may not trump moral judgement for some, it at least gives a more balanced perspective.

  2. Let’s all just get over ourselves for a minute and at least

    SMS “child” to 40014 to donate R20

Comments are closed.

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist