inofficial and personal response from one German UNICEF employée
Dear Mr. (…),
Just a quick update. The adverts have been dropped from the German National
Committee website and there are no plans to use them in the future. We
apologise sincerely for any offence caused. The adverts were inappropriate
and do not reflect our mission.
Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.
with best regards
Dear Mr Naughton,
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you — I have been in meetings
for much of the day. Thank you very much for alerting UNICEF Headquarters
I have forwarded your concerns to colleagues at the German National
Committee for UNICEF, asking them to respond to you directly. Meanwhile, I
am also trying to reach individual colleagues in Germany in person, so that
we can respond to you today if possible — despite the time difference.
I can assure you that we take such issues very seriously at UNICEF, and
that we will get back to you as soon as we can.
With apologies once more for the delay, and with best regards
For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection
UNICEF New York
Tel: 1 212 326 7269
Cell: 1 917 605 1699
(comment from blog-author:
Until it isn’t clear that the actual campaign (posters and ads with these images and “quotes”) will be stopped for good and not be published in the future, it might be a good idea to continue explaining to UNICEF Germany and the advertising agency how you feel about their social skills and why blackface is never a good idea.
Our main aim lies in actually explaining why this is wrong, because in Germany it is really not clear at all why the campaign is offensive. The UK and US experience can help explain and get the point across, so that in the future this won’t be just “one example of a bad campaign” but it can be generalized why the means of “blackface” and “white kids speak for “african” kids” (a.s.o.) is not okay.)
Dear Mr. Dalzine,
Thank you very much for your letter and your comments on the advertisment
for our “Schools for Africa” initiative. Please let me try to explain
context and message of the ad.
The German Committee for UNICEF has started a campaign to promote
child-friendly schools in six African countries in late 2004. This campaign
aims to raise awareness on the fact that nearly half of all children in
Africa lack even primary education.
With funds from private donors, since then 350 schools have been repaired or
newly constructed. In addition, several thousand teachers were trained and
school management improved. In total, some hundred thousand children and
young people have benefitted from this campaign since 2004.
The right to education for all children is a prerequisite to develop their
full potential and a basis for social and economic development. But still
many governments – including the G8-countries – do not stick to their
promise in the so-called “Millennium Declaration” to reach “education for
all” until 2015.
We therefore tried to bring the issue up to the agenda of the G8 summit
which took place in Germany in June this year. One element of our advocacy
work was this ad which was developed pro bono by Jung von Matt.
The idea behind is that children from Germany demonstrate their solidarity
with children in Africa by showing up with a coloured make up. Their message
is: “Children may look different but are equal – we all want to go to
school.” Absolutely no connotation of black children as “dirty children” was
Before publishing the ad, we had carefully discussed possible
misinterpretations and the agency had also tested public reaction in a
survey in Germany, without receiving negative comments. Neither did we
receive any negative reaction from the German public after publication.
The ad was published in a few high-quality print media like Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Zeit, Stern, free-of-charge. These media
had never volunteered to publish the ad if they would have expected a
negative connotation. Obviously, the perception of the ad varies by country.
There are no plans to promote the ad further as it was explicitly developed
for the G8 summit. Your remarks have caused us to drop it from our website.
We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children. Please
rest assured that we take your remarks very seriously and will consider them
in any further communication.
Thank you for sharing your comments with us.
With kind regards,
German Committee for UNICEF
Hoeninger Weg 104, 50969 Koeln
Phone: +49 (0) 221-93650-235
Fax: +49 (0) 221-93650-301
this answer shows that UNICEF Germany still don”t really understand why their campaign is offensive:
1) what about the quotes that practically say all africans are un-educated?
2) Now, we find it important to explain just exactly why this campaign is wrong, because in Germany it is really not clear at all why the campaign is offensive. The UK and US experience can help get the point across, so that in the future this won’t be just “one example of a bad campaign” and happen again. We would like to generalize why the means of “blackface” and “white kids speak for “african” kids” (a.s.o.) and the “quotes” in the ad are not okay.
Besides, a similar campaign that had been tested early 2007 used white grown-ups with faces painted brown instead of children. We know of organisations that had been asked their opinion by UNICEf/JvM and who had strongly suggested to not publish such a campaign. Why UNICEF and JvM thought it would be less offensive if children do the blackfacing, we do not understand.