Heineken has joined the long line of companies whose tone-deaf advertisements have landed them in hot water.
On 26 March, the company pulled an advertisement that used the tagline “sometimes lighter is better” to advertise Heineken Light. The ad shows a bartender sliding a beer past three people—all of whom are black—to a lighter-skinned woman.
Chance the Rapper called out Heineken for the advertisement on Twitter, speculating that the brewer may have made the ad intentionally racist in order to attract more publicity.
“I think some companies are purposely putting out noticably racist ads so they can get more views. And that shit racist/bogus so I guess I shouldn’t help by posting about it. But I gotta just say tho. The “sometimes lighter is better” Hienekin commercial is terribly racist omg”, the rapper said.
The controversy is a far fall for Heineken, which only last year was praised for an ad that showed people with vastly different opinions and backgrounds finding common ground through a series of tasks.
The ad was particularly notable as it contrasted the infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which came out around the same time. It showed Jenner seemingly repairing race relations in the U.S. by handing a Pepsi to a police officer. Critics accused the company of using the Black Lives Matter movement to sell sodas.
Dove and H&M have also recently been accused of racism in their marketing. In October 2017, Dove removed an advertisement that showed a black woman removing her shirt to reveal a white woman underneath.
Critics said the ad implied that black people are dirty. In January, H&M pulled a children’s sweatshirt from its stores that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” after it was featured on a young black model.