Giordano ad for National Day shirt called out for lack of ethnic representation

With National Day around the corner, brands in Singapore are showing their patriotism in full swing. However, what happens when one brand’s attempt to showcase its National Day love goes awry? Enter Giordano.

The clothing brand has come under the hot iron for its line of red polo shirts targeted at families looking to get in on the National Day action. The ad features a family with two Caucasian adults, a Caucasian boy and an Asian girl.

The reaction to the shirts online were negative, with netizens criticising the ad for not only the lack of ethnic representation, but also the poor use of photoshop.

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A quick check by Marketing on the brand's Facebook page showed that the new image was a result of the overlaying of the new shirts over an old product image, which was used during one of the brand’s Mother’s Day campaigns. It was not the first time the same group of models was used to market Giordano’s fashion lines. In fact, the same group also promoted other clothing collections such as its family line, joggers and junior collections.

Marketing has reached out to Giordano for a comment.

In a statement to Marketing, Yeo Ai Ling, founder and client services director at Wild Advertising & Marketing said it is surprising that some brands think they can still get away with these things on social media.

“There is no excuse for this, not even on a budget. The least they can do is to localise the talent and improve on the DI," she said. She added that there are other ways to approach the content authentically without going down the slippery path of recycling past images so blatantly.

"While consumers are all for brands leveraging on NDP to generate sales, the rules of relevance, context and authenticity become even more important to connect with them meaningfully," Yeo said.

Fiona Bartholomeusz, managing director of Formul8 said:

Somewhere, some hapless marketer or agency thought they were either being cost effective, smart or ‘pro-recycling’ by resorting to using Photoshop to turn the shirts red and slapping on a new tag line.

Adding that the spot was wrong on “so many levels”, she said the visual didn't depict the Singaporean spirit and added that the least the brand could do was invest in hiring local models, street talent or even have a Singaporean family shot wearing the products.

“ And that little girl, is she adopted? Basic rule of nationalistic advertising is to respect the country you’re celebrating and respect your brand integrity. Executions such as this just remind me why I’m not going to be wearing Giordano polo shirts this National Day,” she added.

Robert Gaxiola, creative director/co-founder of manghamgaxiola mcgarrybowen added this particular National Day ad is “less of an ethnic diversity statement than we think”.

“Had this national day effort #ONENATIONTOGETHER included a Caucasian family that were actual Singaporean citizens with an adopted Chinese daughter I’d be so impressed. But no, since they are reusing an image from their old stock photo library it appears to be more of an economic decision than anything else. Sadly, it is hardly a bold advertising campaign to make a statement like the once provocative United Colours of Benetton work,” he said.

Adding that Singapore is a cosmopolitan city by design, the nation should ideally see more creative diversity of every kind from brands in their advertising.

“Admittedly, there are some brands in Asia that only (or mostly) use caucasian talents. There was a time I believe Giordano, which hails form Hong Kong, was known for this but then corrected course. Over the years I’ve sat in casting meetings where caucasian talents were demanded by our client to give a more “premium” impression to consumers,” he added.