Cape Town - A Feed A Child television advertisement has sparked outrage online for its portrayal of a black child as a dog.
The advertisement, which has been viewed 2 100 times on YouTube, depicts a young black boy being given treats by a glamorous white woman in her expensive home. His head rests on her lap as she strokes him and later he is rewarded with another snack when he brings her a newspaper in bed.
In the final scene, the woman lets the boy lick her finger while she is cooking and the video ends with the line: “The average domestic dog eats better than millions of children.”
However, another NGO has jumped to the defence of the advertisement. “This is a great advert that highlights what is actually going on. The average dog does eat better than most children in this country,” said Feed SA director Candice Etberg.
“People are ignoring the message here – and it’s that we need to get together and start feeding children.”
Some online users have accused Feed A Child SA of perpetuating stereotypes – black people always at the mercy of white people or white people treating black people as |animals.
“You could have used a real dog to emphasise this story line, not a child.
“I am so disgusted – you guys have no respect for the human race,” Charmaine Gxilishe commented under the advertisement uploaded to YouTube.
Also reacting to the advert, Martin van der Walt labelled it “racist”.
“This is an untrue way of life. It reflects that white people only are the rich and suppress the African children. This ad is racist and needs to be removed and blocked and no longer aired,” Van der Walt wrote on YouTube.
“All we see when we go about SA is white people taking care of black people and this ad, with its shock effect, is pathetic. Learn how to market before you advertise, YouTube user Time-Benderz wrote. “Where are the black people looking after the white people? The mentality of SA is shocking.”
Another response was from Dorette van Zyl, who said: “Why did it have to be a white woman feeding a black child? The message it sends out is not very clear at first, showing rich white people sharing a small portion of their wealth with the poor black people. Hello! When last did you really look around?”
However, some users said they could see the aim of the advert.
“It drives a powerful message across and does not deserve to be evaluated on the race of the characters,” commented TheLynx73.
Arnau van Achterbergh, the director of the charity organisation has defended the advertisement, saying it was “based on a shocking societal truth” and was “not meant to offend anyone”.
“It’s a truth that everyone is shying away from and we’re saying: ‘Now that we’ve got your attention, will you help us?’” he said.
Achterbergh said the advertisement had been designed to shock people to get their attention. His organisation was monitoring reaction.