Sunday, March 23, 2008

Old Navy - Nina Keita



Someone mentioned these Old Navy ads in the comments yesterday.

Coincidentally, I'd noticed the ad a few days ago. First because the dark skinned model in the ads, Nina Keita, has been featured in quite a few Old Navy ads recently and second, because her "love interest" in the ad is white.

I guess I'm so accustomed to seeing these types of ads go in a different direction that changing it up a bit immediately transforms me into a deer-in-the-headlights.

Ordinarily, this type of commercial would usually show the group of young white women (with their one black friend) flirting with a groups of white guys (and their one black friend) at a mall or amusement park. The end of the ad would show everyone matched up by race having a great time sharing fountain drinks.

I always thought that this set up put way too much pressure of the black friends. What if they didn't like each other? What if one of them way gay? Clearly, these were the only two black people in town. How was it that they were only just now meeting one another? Good Lord, what if they were related? Would their white friends care? Did anyone even bother to ask them how they felt about not being given a choice?

I've read many a designer complain that if they use a black or other non-white model in an ad or on the runway, then the consumer will pay more attention to the model than the product.

I think this is only partially true. I always pause at a ad with a person of color partly because of the rarity of black models in national campaigns but when I do I always note who is producing the ad. I can't watch Nina Keita stroll around town in that Old Navy green tube dress without wondering how it would look on my body. On the flip side, models like Jessica Stam, Kate Moss and Gisele appear in so many similar advertisements that I'd be hard pressed to tell any of the campaigns apart.

How exactly does that work in the designer's favor?

17 comments:

Camille Acey said...

the first thing i noticed is that the ad is incredibly long.

the second thing i noticed is that her weave is BEYOND RIDICULOUS. She needs to get back to China and give some peasant their hair back.

but somehow interspersed in all that i did notice that they have some incredibly cute stuff at old navy this season.

our brains are incredibly complex machines. those closet racists in the fashion industry need to stop trying to play us for fools.

Brigitte said...

I've seen the edited version of this ad on TV, never this full length version that I found on Youtube.

And yeah, I really need to get to Old Navy and try some of this stuff on.

ann! d. said...

I don't agree with the comment about her hair. Back to China with the peasants? Where are we, feudal England?

Anyway, Nina Keita creates a very striking contrast in these Old Navy commercials admist the two-three other white models featured. And that's a good thing! Because it certainly makes me like ON's stuff more.

lapetitediva said...

I have an irrational dislike for Old Navy. I don't know why, but I do.

John said...

watch for nina keita in the future - her career will blow up for a season or two BECAUSE of the ON ads... She clearly has personality, style and serves the camera really well. It feels like you know her from somewhere - she's genuine.

as far as the color of her skin is concerned - whatever - she is so beautiful and guessing she he has a great heart based on what I've read... Like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelo said years and years ago - "when will both people of African and Euro heritage cease using the terms 'Black and White' when referring to human beings of sacred character? People's skin color is not black or white - inanimate objects, pets and animals are black and white, but not human beings..." (paraphrased) - remember, Dr. King was passionate about judging ourselves and others by the content of our character not by the color of our skin - It's about time this "Black and White" thing was left out to pasture-

afrobella said...

I hadn't seen this before! I personally am loving the new direction of Old Navy, they've got some great plus size stuff (and a gorgeous black model who does lots of their plus size modeling). I agree with you -- when I see a model who looks like me, I immediately feel more drawn to the product. I love the patterns they're using, and the flats... I'm gonna have to go shopping soon!

Anonymous said...

yay! i'm the one who left the comment on her in the previous post. I agree when they races are all paired off(i.e. there is only one black guy and he automatically goes with the black girl)I always think, "hey not all black people will like each other romantically". I was just happy to see a dark skinned model to be featured so prominently in a tv ad even if only for old navy

Camille Acey said...

yeah i forgot to even comment about the black girl and guy always automatically liking each other in the multiracial group. i laughed out loud when i read that since i'd always thought it but never really spoken my annoyance aloud. ha!

I like that she was taunting those guys with her prettiness too, not just like "Oh here comes my boyfriend" it's like "Oh yeah, I got game for miles and miles."

Go Nina Keita! And cheers to Old Navy for making a commercial that felt cute and fun and real.

Zan said...

Todd Oldham has taken over as creative director for Old Navy. That might explain the better quality of clothes and the use of Black models. Todd forever has my heart because of Todd Time on House of Style.

cynicaloptimist said...

I noticed this commercial as well and enjoyed it. I did think her hair was overdone but she's such a pretty girl that it doesn't matter. Old Navy really has done better with their clothes. I have lots of things from there now. Target and Old Navy are my two favorite low priced retailers.

Anonymous said...

The lack of black models in these advertisements makes me paranoid. I keep thinking "But why is the BLACK model the forgetful one?!?!?" By default, there has to be *something* wrong with the ad. But really this ad is amazing. So cool.

MAGNIFICENT BASTARD said...

Her skin is amazing...when I see girls like her I see the birth of the universe, the true face of nature, and all things akin to beauty. She glows naturally, and emotes a modesty demanding compliment as sweet as her slender,sunkissed frame.

mariisoul said...

I was so extremely drawn to these ads because of Nina. I'd all but given up on Old Navy style for the past few years but Nina definitely drew me into the commercial. Being in rural Maine, I don't see many people who look like me to begin with. To see one who wasn't in a rap video I had to pause and watch. I couldn't help but notice her different outfits and wonder what I would look like in them. So yes, for me, she definitely drew my attention to the product.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, she isn't black, she's African.

Brigitte said...

@To be clear, she isn't black, she's African.

What are you smoking?

Camille Acey said...

@brigitte- whatever anonymous is on, it is frying the brain. completely.

Brigitte said...

@camille - Yeah I don't even know what to think about that comment. Is she in disguise? Is Nina actually Angelina Jolie in blackface?