Actress Débora Nascimento stars in commercial with two other black women; ad highlights the absence of Afro-Brazilians in Brazilian advertising

Actress Débora Nascimento, center, in a new commercial for Seda
Actress Débora Nascimento, center, in a new commercial for Seda

Note from BW of Brazil: A new commercial featuring actress Débora Nascimento speaks to several different issues covered here on the blog. First, the ad features the actress along with two other black women, rare to find on Brazilian television. Two, it features all women of visible African ancestry in a commercial promoting a beauty product. Three, the product specifically targets women with “cabelo crespo (kinky-curly hair)”, another market vastly under-represented in Brazil’s beauty industry. Below is how the release of the product and commercial was covered in the media. Comments from BW of Brazil analyzing the representation of black Brazilian women in advertisements follow. 

Actress Débora Nascimento stars in new commercial for Silk hair products

Seda commercial featuring actress Débora Nascimento

The newest ambassador of Seda (meaning “silk”), actress Débora Nascimento, is featured in a new commercial for the brand. Filmed in the neighborhood of Santa Tereza, in Rio de Janeiro, the video shows the realization of the dream of two young women who have just opened a nail salon.

Actress displays magazine featuring Débora Nascimento on the cover
Actress displays magazine featuring Débora Nascimento on the cover

To complete the party, Débora Nascimento, an inspiration for the girls, makes a surprise appearance to congratulate the newest small business owners in the industry of beauty.

Débora Nascimento in backstage preparation for commercial
Débora Nascimento in backstage preparation for commercial

The new Seda commercial is for the release of the Keraforce Original and Keraforce Química, idealized especially for natural kinky/curly hair and for those who have gone through relaxing treatments or hair straightening.

Still frame from Seda commercial
Still frame from Seda commercial

Behind the scenes of the filming, the atmosphere with the actress was of total relaxation and a good mood. Débora said that she loved launching the new lines and admits that her relationship with her curly hair wasn’t always tranquil.

Actress backstage
Actress backstage

“From childhood to adolescence, I did not know much about how to take care of my hair. My mother did not know how to instruct me to make the pretty curls, so I combed it any way and I did not use the right products. It was with a strange texture, without any shape. I hated it. I wanted to have straight hair like most girls in my class at school. I wanted to use the chapinha and escova (flat iron and brush), but I didn’t have the money to always do this. Because of this, I always wore it in a bun,” she says.

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Today Débora says that she understands that her natural hair defines who she is.

Nascimento is the new face of Seda hair products
Nascimento is the new face of Seda hair products

“I think the hair directs the woman a lot, it changes the image and even the way you dress and how you feel. So I am very happy with my curls, I think that the more volume the better and I take care of them so that they are always well defined. I always have a spray to comb (my hair) in my purse,” she says.

Note from BW of Brazil: For anyone who has watched or watches television in Brazil and analyzes it from a racial perspective, seeing a commercial promoting a beauty product featuring only black women may be surprising, even shocking. Why? Because as in other areas of the Brazilian media game, Afro-Brazilians in general are simply rarely seen in TV commercials. When they ARE featured it’s usually for some sort of social message or means of social improvement or ascension, this because, in the minds of the society at large, poverty is associated with blackness. In regards to invisibility and negative portrayals, filmmaker/critic Joel Zito Araújo found that black Brazilians were featured in only 3% of TV commercials. Solange Couceiro de Lima characterized the ideal aesthetic model for commercials this way: 

“The man is portrayed as white, thin, handsome and elegant, while the woman is always pretty, thin, charming and often times, brainless. Contrasting this ideal, the deficient, the ugly, the negro are “defects” of a despised minority.”

Two ads by the lingerie maker Du Loren
Two ads by the lingerie maker Du Loren

In their study on the representation of black women in Brazilian advertising, Rafael Rangel Winch and Giane Vargas Escobar wrote:

“When advertising unites the racial stereotype with the sexual and the social, the result becomes misrepresentation. This is what happened in an ad by the Du Loren line of lingerie. With the backdrop of a favela (slum), the piece features a black woman in intimate attire, and the following sentence: ‘Pacifying was easy. I want to see domination.’ The ad was banned from being displayed by the Conselho Nacional de Autorregulamentação (CONAR or National Council for Self-Regulation) in the same year it was released in 2012. In the previous year, CONAR considered an ad by Devassa beer racist and sexist.” (See details of these ads covered by BW of Brazil here, here and here).

Controversial ad by beer maker, Devassa
Controversial ad by beer maker, Devassa

Afrodescendentes (African descendants) rarely star in advertising campaigns, and when it happens, in most cases, the ads are filled with exaggerated and erroneous beliefs. In examples like these, advertising insists on portraying a black woman as being promiscuous and appealing. Besides the strong erotic appeal, the announcement of Du Loren still reinforces the imagery of women from the favela, the black woman.

“At the end of the 1980s, many Brazilian advertisers, in spite of recognizing the existence of racism in the country, credited the invisibility of blacks to their (supposed) lower level of buying power, as can be noted in the comments of advertiser/writer Ênio Mainardi:

‘Advertising is not revolutionary; it lives on social clichés, prejudices, only showing what people want to see. In business, people want to see themselves represented in a true psychoanalytic projection, as beautiful, rich, powerful. And blacks are poor, my love.’ (Pires, 1988, P.15).

Ads for the “Basta de Violência contra a Mulher (Enough (with the) Violence against Women)” campaign
Ads for the “Basta de Violência contra a Mulher (Enough (with the) Violence against Women)” campaign

“And it is precisely campaigns like “Basta de Violência contra a Mulher (Enough (with the) Violence against Women)”, that features the afrodescendentes more expressively. They are advertising spaces that use the figure of the black woman to represent them, often as victims of the social system, as beings in need, who need some government assistance. Blacks often appear in posters of government programs such as Bolsa Familia (Family Scholarship) and Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life) (1). Blacks, seen by advertisers as the main object of such “assistance” are always dependent on public or private initiative. In most of these ads, blacks have no active position, and appear to have no power over what happens in their lives.” (Note: See commercials below. Dialogue of commercials in notes section, #2)

TV ads for the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” program featuring actress Regina Casé

Note from BW of Brazil: While the studies cited in this report are very recent (2011 and 2012), one could argue that nothing has changed in 25 years. Gino Giacomini noted that in 1988, one could find a black woman in a commercial playing the role of a maid in a commercial for condensed milk, but there were no commercials that featured black women as bank managers buying car insurance (Giacomini 1991 cited in Rangel and Escobar 2012) (3). Some of the blame for this association of poverty and servitude with blackness no doubt goes back to Brazil’s 350 year history of slavery and while this inhumane institution ended 125 years ago, inequalities still persist. But although it is true that 75.2% of Brazil’s upper and upper-middle classes are represented by whites and 72.6% of the poorer classes are represented by Afro-Brazilians (4), this still means that nearly one-quarter of the upper/upper-middle classes are persons of visible African descent. And with the news that 80% of the newest members of the middle classes being Afro-Brazilian, more and more blacks are capable of purchasing products and services that they didn’t have access to until very recently. Thus the question becomes this: All black Brazilians don’t live in poverty, so when will the media portray the diversity of the Afro-Brazilian experience rather than just the established stereotype? If media advertisements don’t help to change this image, the association (blackness and poverty) remains the same. But then, maybe that’s the idea…

Source: Terra, Folha de S.Paulo. Winch, Rafael Rangel and Giane Vargas Escobar. “Os Lugares da Mulher Negra na Publicidade Brasileira”. Cadernos de Comunicação. Vol.6, #2, July-December 2012. Martins, Carlos Augusto de Miranda e. “A publicidade e o resgistro branco do Brasil”. O negro nos espaços publicitários brasileiros: perspectivas contemporâneas em diálogo. Edited by Leandro Leonardo Batista and Francisco Leite. Escola de Comunicações e Artes/USP: Coordenadoria dos Assuntos da População Negra, 2011

Notes

1. Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House, My Life),the Brazilian government’s social housing program, was launched in March 2009 with a budget of R$36 billion (US$18 billion) to build 1 million homes.[22] The second stage of the program, included within the government Growth Acceleration Program (PAC – Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento) was announced in March 2010. This stage foresees the construction of a further 2 million homes. Of the total 3 million homes, 1.6 million are for families earning between 0 and 3 times the monthly minimum wage (R$545); 1 million homes are allocated to families with salaries between 3 and 6 times the monthly minimum wage; and the remaining 400,000 homes are for families earning between 6 and 10 times the monthly minimum wage. All funds for Minha Casa Minha Vida properties are provided by the Brazilian public bank, Caixa Econômica Federal. The bank finances development and provides mortgages for qualifying families.  In April 2011, the Minister for Planning, Miriam Belchior announced that 1 million homes were contracted for the Minha Casa Minha Vida in 2010 and that 500,000 homes would be delivered in 2011. The government budget for the programme was R$39 billion in 2010 and R$40.1 billion in 2011. Source

2. Dialogue from TV ads for the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” program featuring actress Regina Casé.

3. The necessity of changing the image of black women was the motive for an ad campaign in southern Brazil in 2010 and also recent announcements of the need to create policies to change negative images of black women in Brazil.

4. Neri, Marcelo. “Símbolos de classe”. Folha de S.Paulo. October 2, 2011.  http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/mercado/me0210201115.htm

Commercial 1 dialogue

[Regina Casé] We’re on the morro (hill) in Tuiuti in northern Rio where Patricia was born and raised. Land of many good people, workers, fighters. Because it is really difficult to live here, huh, Patricia?

[Regina Casé] How was your home here?

[Patricia] The house was horrible, really tiny. A lot of mold and the children were sick. There was no daycare, so I had no way to work.

[Regina Casé] Then Patricia enrolled in the Minha Casa, Minha life (program).

[Patricia] It was the best thing I did in my life.

[Regina Casé] We’re going to see your new home? Wow, what a difference, Patricia!

[Patricia] This is Marcelo, my husband.

[Regina Casé] Hi Marcelo! Patricia, but I’m not believing (this). What a change!

[Patricia] Now I can say I have a house. The kids have a school, I have a job, I’m taking a course (school)!

[Marcelo] And that, for us, is more than a house change. It’s a lifestyle change!

[Regina Casé] Patricia, do you believe that there are already a million people who moved into a home like this from the Minha Casa, Minha Vida (program)?

[Patricia] A million?

[Regina Casé] A Million!

[Patricia] I doubt that they have a nicer house than mine.

[Regina Casé] Look at that! Life asks, CAIXA does.

Commercial 2 – Announcement by Regina Casé

“With this card you can buy up to R$5000 of furniture and appliances and you will pay only a little each month,” says host and actress Regina Case to Priscilla, a recipient of the Minha Casa Minha Vida (program), of the Federal Government. The card is accepted at over 13,000 stores throughout Brazil.

About Marques Travae 3608 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

4 Comments

  1. Debra is pretty. But I thought the two other women in the commercial were prettier than her. They were both stunning! 🙂

  2. The first commercial was very cute & perky, it was very beautiful to see young Black girls being so happy and succeding in life. The other two commercials seemed to acknowledge the humanity of Black women and to treat them with respect. I was very, very happy to see that. Although it saddens be to hear that commercials such as these featuring Black WOMEN & GIRLS are so rare, these ones were nice to see, and hopefully we will see more ads like these on Brazilian & world tv that treats Black women & girls in a nice way and shows their humanity.

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