Bayo draws flak over mixed-race campaign

Posted at 06/06/2012 1:35 PM | Updated as of 06/07/2012 5:03 PM
Posters of the "What's Your Mix?" campaign are displayed in one of Bayo's branches. Photo from Bayo's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Several Filipino Internet users were not pleased with the newest campaign of women’s fashion brand Bayo, which directly promotes mixed-race models.

Bayo’s “What’s Your Mix?” campaign, launched early this month, features Filipino-Australian actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith with the text “50% Australian and 50% Filipino.”

Other models were given labels such as “80% Chinese and 20% Filipino,” “40% British and 60% Filipino,” and 30% Indian and 70% Filipino.”

“Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world-class. We always have the fighting chance to make it in the world arena of almost all aspects,” Bayo said in the ad which, according to independent social news website Mashable, has been taken down.

Although Bayo stressed that the new ad aims to highlight a person’s uniqueness, several Filipinos turned to blogs and social networking sites to say that the “What’s Your Mix?” campaign was “demeaning,” while some said it was “poorly executed.”

Others, meanwhile, said the ad suggests that those who are 100% Filipino are inferior to their mixed-race counterparts.

Below are some of their posts on microblogging site Twitter:

“I think the person who thought of the Bayo campaign is half-Filipino/half-German… Shepherd,” blogger The Pickiest Eater said.

“New Bayo campaign: 50% Pinoy, 50% poor-if-you-don’t-have-a-foreign-blood,” added user Ea0223.

“Bayo had a good idea. They just presented it in a terrible way. Sad,” Klave Answorth said.

Alvic Plan, meanwhile, said: “Bayo’s What’s Your Mix campaign would have benefited from including a traditional 100% Pinoy beauty.”

New meme

Some Internet users, meanwhile, decided to make fun of Bayo’s new campaign by coming up with their own versions of the company’s ads.

Using the hashtag #WhatsYourMix, they jokingly mentioned different combinations of race, ethnicity, gender and even elements not usually found in human beings.

Comments ranged from “50% man and 50% machine,” referring to fictional cybor law enforcer RoboCop, to “50% fire type, 50% rock type.”

A Filipino Internet user makes fun of Bayo's "What's Your Mix?" ad by including fictional cyber law enforcer RoboCop. Photo from Twitter

“Inspired by Bayo, Belo could run this ad campaign: 50% organic, 50% silicone. What’s your mix,” tweeted user RedTani, referring to celebrity doctor Vicki Belo.

Race issues

But not all netizens were displeased by the new campaign.

One of them is television host Tim Yap, who lamented that Filipinos tend to get offended easily when their race is being discussed.

“Much ado about the Bayo ad. There’s always much ballyhoo every time we tackle our race. Why is that,” Yap said on Twitter.

ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon, meanwhile, said the issue is an opportunity for Filipinos to “confront our national identity.”

“The Bayo ad and the Azkals are making Pinoys talk about race,” she said, referring to Philippine football team Azkals, which are composed mainly of mixed-race players.

Blogger Casas, meanwhile, noted that this is not the first time that a Filipino company highlighted the so-called superiority of mixed races in advertising, citing the popularity of stars like Georgina Wilson and Jasmine’s sister, Anne Curtis.

The blog post has been shared several times on social networking sites.

“This sort of campaign that Bayo is promoting has been punching you in the face repeatedly since you were old enough to see a commercial on TV. Now Bayo has stopped being subtle about it and the Internet melts down,” Casas said.

“This kind of idiotic false patriotism isn’t a sense of nationalistic pride. It’s borderline ignorance and intolerance. It’s hypocritical and is indicative of everything wrong with people and the media today.

“We are surrounded by a Western/mixed version of beauty because that’s what’s fed to us. No one questions it.

“Yes, the copy is stupid and yes it could have worked differently, but it’s really nothing new than what’s already shoved in front of you.”

Bayo, meanwhile, has yet to release a statement about the issue.

FHM’s ‘racist’ cover

Actress Bela Padilla graces the cover of FHM Philippines' March 2012 issue.

This is not the first time that a company received huge criticism for concepts that allegedly suggest supremacy of certain races.

Just last February, men’s magazine FHM Philippines drew flak for posting a magazine cover which was branded by many as racist.

The editorial team of the men’s magazine later scrapped the cover photo, which featured actress Bela Padilla surrounded by dark-skinned models.

It had the caption: “Bela Padilla stepping out of the shadows.”

Padilla was also interviewed by global news organization BBC about the issue, with the actress saying that she does not regret doing the controversial cover.

But she apologized to anyone who may have been offended by FHM Philippines’ March 2012 cover.