Ancestry.com Swiftly Pulls Cringeworthy Ad That Makes 'Green Book' Look Like 'The Color Purple'
The backlash was swift and certainly warranted.
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Twitter was set ablaze after a commercial began to circulate online Thursday evening. The 30-second advertisement at the center of the controversy depicted a Black woman and a white man about to embark on a journey to leave the South.
From the wardrobe to the production design, viewers could determine the seeming couple lived in the 19th century. The pair began running through a downpour. Then, they stopped under a covered area to escape the rain. The woman may be a free person of color or enslaved at one point, and the man--indicated by his short proposition-- assumed racism and white supremacy didn't exist in the North.
"Abigail," the man said with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. "We can escape to the North. There's a place we can be together, across the border."
The woman tried to respond, but she was quickly interrupted. Her partner asked her to go with her right before the credits roll. Viewers are to believe she said yes as Ancestry's logo followed the fade to black.
ooooh my god LMAOOO who approved this ancestry commercial??? pic.twitter.com/Isy0k4HTMA— manny (@mannyfidel) April 18, 2019
CNN notes the couple married in 1857 in Canada. The original ad premiered on YouTube on April 2.
Within a matter of hours, the company usually known for its effective marketing backtracked and removed the ad amid a storm of criticism. The short video seemed to overlook the harsh reality of slavery. Critics pointed out that the mass majority of Black people in America gained white ancestry due to rape and sexual coercion.
White man: you can’t sit here!— Desus Nice (@desusnice) April 18, 2019
Rosa parks: why not?
White man: because you already have a place......in my heart.
*ancestry dot com logo with a soft fade out*
While it’s true that 1 in 4 black folks who test their male line through DNA end up finding a white man, it ain’t because of no damn slavery love story. I’m so tired of y’all. https://t.co/UwknpDDniL— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) April 18, 2019
https://t.co/d1p9zmg0CZ— Binford Carter (@sebeku2) April 18, 2019
https://t.co/2UhPhTSuOO won’t make a commercial acknowledging all of the rape that led to mixed black people. But they’ll highlight a forbidden romance between a black woman and white man from hundreds of years ago 🙄
Everyone over at ancestry has lost their fucking mind pic.twitter.com/MhsOV4ecNo— C. (@MCcaptialGEE) April 18, 2019
I used this service a few years ago. And when I realized I was more than 10% European, I wept.— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) April 18, 2019
Not from shame for who I am, but from anger from the trauma of how it may have come to be.
This commercial spits on the trauma in our veins and the fight of our ancestors, @ancestry https://t.co/KBpqB6XPZg
In August of last year, a report claimed Ancestry.com and other DNA service companies allegedly sold customers' DNA to drugmakers and tech startups. Ancestry was reportedly connected to Google's life-extension spinoff Calico. The company refuted working with Google and in a statement told Business Insider it only worked with higher academic institutions at the time.
CBS News reports the latest advertisement was removed from platforms because it failed to capture the company's services accurately.
"Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history," the company said in a statement to CBS News.
"This ad was intended to represent one of those stories," the statement added. "We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube."
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