Sprinter Ad

Intel’s intent of our ad titled “Multiply Computing Performance and Maximize the Power of Your Employees” was to convey the performance capabilities of our processors through the visual metaphor of a sprinter. We have used the visual of sprinters in the past successfully.

Unfortunately, our execution did not deliver our intended message and in fact proved to be insensitive and insulting. Upon recognizing this, we attempted to pull the ad from all publications but, unfortunately, we failed on one last media placement.

We are sorry and are working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Nancy Bhagat

Vice President, Director of Integrated Marketing

107 thoughts on “Sprinter Ad

  1. I think that it is notable that you published this statement. Since the Gawker media sites have been the forum for which this ad has been discussed over the past few days, it may be in your best interest to deliver this message in that forum. It is likely that people know to look in this location to find the statement. Though I realize that the ad was never meant to convey anything other than the message of speed and overall performance, the fact that it did incite further conversation makes this particular ad very valuable to the discussion of race politics and American society. I implore you to make yourself available to individuals who have questions and concerns.

  2. Hi Nancy and the Intel team, I commend you for coming forward, being transparent about the incident and responding quickly. Most companies (i can name a few) that have been in this situation attempt to sweep it under the rug. I’d like to offer an opportunity for you to appear on my NPR tech program to speak to the challenges, the changes and how unintended messages can paint the wrong picture. Creative interpretation means different things to different people. Let me know…

  3. Well, I sent an email to you guys previously for an ad that showed a Timberland-clad “thug” listening to MP3s with Mariah Carey.
    I am a black SW developer and maybe you should just not include black people in your ads. That would solve the problem. Or perhaps remember that some of us do work in IT and should be represented as such.
    The big problem with the ad is “what did the employees (or PCs) look like before?” and also, “do they represent the PCs or the people?”
    Thank you for listening.

  4. Is the sprinter Asafa Powell, the world record holder in the 100 metres? If so, it might help to point it out. At least it’s a distinct personality and not a “generic black athlete” Intel decided to clone…
    On the other hand, I still can’t figure out why the world’s fastest man has to work for the smug idiot in the khakis…
    Nice to see the apology.

  5. Me being black (African American(really from Africa)) this is one of the few times where I see nothing wrong, the ad is drawing parallels between the Core 2 duo lineup (which i think is great) and what looks to be Olympic sprinters. people need to wake up and stop seeing things that aren’t there.

  6. While I can appreciate Intel coming forward and taking responsibility for its participation in the development of an advertisement with such a strong negative image to members of the African American community, I cannot simply dismiss the entire incident as little more than an unfortunate slip of a recall notice. The very fact that this particular advertisement was suggested, fully developed, and distributed is the issue here and not simply the fact that it was published. Intel is not new to the world of advertising. This is much more than just an original GEICO Caveman moment come to life. Intel should take every opportunity to reverse its insensitivity to the African American community. Giving a big corporate OOPS! just doesn’t cut it. Indeed, it would be wonderful to see Intel actually take the steps necessary to truly embrace African American culture.

  7. I am deeply disappointed by Intel. Even if this ad were created by person(s) with social autism and/or no comprehension of how this ad would be perceived in a former slave nation such as the U.S.A., I still cannot find a single positive attribute to this ad.
    1) The “Sprinters” aren’t ready to sprint; their heads are down.
    2) The “Sprinters” aren’t running anywhere, except perhaps into each other and/or the person in the center.
    3) The person in the center seems to have no purpose other than to either lord over the “Sprinters” or express satisfaction of the “Sprinters”.
    Frankly, if everyone were green, and all the clothing were purple, it still would give me negative connotations about this product and company (Product -> Sprinters who plan to ram into each other (or perhaps scatter to the four winds) -> Failure -> Me as an unhappy customer).
    Because I’m unable to find anything positive, I must conclude that at best an advertising group or person that works for Intel wanted to give Intel a bad reputation, and somehow slipped it through your process without it’s being caught.
    I’m mostly interested in what you plan to do to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
    Thanks for your time.

  8. Next time just exercise a little common sense and either don’t use this type of depiction or at least show a black executive (yes, we can think as well as we run) in place of the current “Boss Man”.

  9. It’s obviously a sprinter, so this illustrates how ridiculous the race card has become in the United States. If it were a black male standing in middle of the picture and a white sprinter we would not have heard any complaints.
    Which illustrates the nice double standard.
    Having said that, it’s a little surprising that your internal team didn’t see the obvious implications those who want to trumpet the race card would most likely take away from the picture. I guess that tells you the mindset of techies in Oregon.
    You might want to invest in a new ad company.

  10. Nancy, the problem with this ad is not that it is racist because it isn’t, although some people might believe otherwise. In my opinion, they are overly sensitive and no matter what you do, they will always be in the “hard to please” and easily offended group.
    For example if you pictured two gepards bringing down an antelope to convey how two of them can accomlpish that faster than the one gepard alone, then the PETA would comlpain.
    Putting that aside, the ad itself is of very poor quality and poorly thought out.
    It doesn’t convey the message as directly as it should, and in failing to do so it allows frivolous interpretation by the observers.
    That leads us to the above problem of how various people perceive it, because it is obvious that if you analyze anything long enough, you will most certainly find at least one flaw.

  11. Oh please…you pulled THAT?!? To me it just looked like a bad photo-editing job. I don’t get the message, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be racially insensitive; even after the implications of that pose were pointed out. You guys pussied out in my opinion.

  12. As a proud black man, I feel I have to dissent from my peers and point out that I don’t find the advertisement racist at all. In fact, the whole controversy over it has very much amused me.
    The real problem is not with your ad, but is the hordes of complainers who try to look for racism/sexism/homophobia/etc in everything so they can get angry. I suppose everyone needs a hobby, but it really does nothing for progress.
    Really, Nancy, there is no apology necessary!

  13. Thank you, Ms. Bhagat, for explaining the situation and apologizing for the mishap. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
    No ethnic or social group is a monolith. Thus, there are members of the African American group that would discount the offensive nature of the ad as well as members that would find it objectionable. Any person, at least any American, who takes even a passing look at the ad cannot escape the racial connotations inherent in its imagery.
    What I find objectionable, though, are those commenters who blithely disregard the opinions of the significant subgroup of African Americans who do take offense from the ad. I certainly hope these commenters find themselves on the marketing teams of my competitors.
    I am a business development manager for a multi-national, and one of the first lessons in this line of work is to respect the mores and cultures of the people with which you want to do business. As a westerner who has spent much time in China, I can tell you that a lot of their cultural norms are subtle and confusing to me (and the Chinese are by no means a monolith), but these details must be mastered to create a fruitful relationship. There is no room for cavalier dismissals of anyone’s delight or offense at various subjects.
    Maybe the lessons American multi-nationals have to learn when approaching the Chinese and Indian markets could serve them well with African Americans at home?

  14. Fellow employees, advertising isn’t about logic or exact interpretation. Whether the ad demonstrates active racism is not the question. Instead, the perception and feeling the audience takes away in a 3-5 second viewing is central to the effectiveness. And the inescapable reality is that of a black man in a bowing position to a white male. If the history of slavery were different this juxtaposition would be a non-issue.
    Perhaps the greater issue is that this layout was not vetted properly by the ad agency and then Intel marketing. Surely its reasonable to expect this team of individuals to recognize advertising which could be reasonably interpreted as offensive. We need to expect more for our advertising dollar.

  15. It appears to me that the black community is upset only because there is a white guy standing there.. what if the role was opposite.. then the white community would be upset and the black community would have no idea why… people really need to stop seeing everything in black and white.. when we are able to do that then there is no bounds to what we can achieve…btw i am a white guy so yes this is a basis opinion

  16. I just don’t understand why the white guy has to have that smug smirk on his face and his hands folded like he’s the “master” of the office while his six “workers” bow down before him. I realize they aren’t bowing in obeisance, that they’re crouched to sprint, but the imagery seems all to reminiscent of white domination and evokes the days of slavery to me. As a white guy, I won’t deny that Black people are generally faster than white people and that the best sprinters are generally Black, but Intel should have been smarter than this. Couldn’t they see it coming that folks were going to cry racism? Why didn’t they just get a more racially diverse mix of sprinters?

  17. As an Afican American woman, viewing your ad depicting 6 Black men (or man, as it seems to be the same person) all appearing to be bowing (I may be wrong, but I’ve never saw a runner take off with their face down) to a grinning white man, just doesn’t sit well with me. Nevermind that the Black men are depicted as runners (IMO, that’s just a poor justification…many people will just argue that the majority of runners are Black). You could have put them in a suit and sat them in a chair, and it would have conveyed the same underlying message: Black men=workers, White man=manager.
    While I was turned off by the ad, it’s nice to see a company take ownership of the situation and not just chose to ignore the people that were offended by the images. I am however concerned at the fact that in the preliminary stages while creating and displaying this ad, not one person in that room saw that this ad may potentially be offensive…and if no one thought so, why not? How many Blacks were there when this ad was created and presented? Not one person mentioned that this ad should be re-thought?

  18. Funny, the thing I found poor about the ad is that the sprinters appear to be awaiting the starting gun, at which time they will smack heads so hard that all their “processing” ability and speed will come to a dead halt. The knees-up fingertip stance is enough to show that they are not in a “bowing” position.

  19. Revive the bunny doll dancers. It was the best campaign ever in the 20 years I have worked at Intel.

  20. We could have been more creative on this ad …actually if the ad includes 2 black, 2 chinese and 2 greek (doing somersault), the effect will be great … not on-your-mark for sprint …. why didn’t 6 of the sprinters sprint instead of heading down? sprinting look more energetic than on-your-mark. I found that the guy standing in the middle is absolutely unnecessary …why standing? why not jumping in the mid air? or spidering at the ceiling? Why is he not holding a pen doing some work? I could think of a thousand ideas of making this man in the middle doing somethings useful.

  21. I have no problem with the Black sprinters. I do, however, have a problem with the prevalent white male who continues to be the center of most advertising (*except for domestic–that’s geared toward white women, not shockingly. Guess no one else has kids or cleans). I am not offended at the positions of the runners. Perhaps Intel, or your advertising team, needs to wake and smell the fact that there are *gasp*, people of other colors out there!!!! Imagine an ad with all non-white people!!!! Yikes. Give it a try sometime–THAT would be real diversity, you know the kind companies are always patting themselves on the back for. But I guess as long as advertisers, mostly white, continue to pretend that the intended audience is only comprised of white people, the status quo will remain so. It’s just sad. Diversity is not just about putting those fast Black people in your ad, it is also about entertaining the notion that perhaps a non-white person could occupy that central position of smugness which the white guy in the ad occupies. It is not so much an issue of past racial injustices, as the same trite advertising which fails to adapt and recognize other cultures. It’s old already!!!!

  22. Hi Nancy. Althought i think there are a lot of different ways to transmit the intended on the mail, i don’t find it as offensive as i have read on the others oppinions. “The eye sees what it chooses to see”, and as long as this statement its true, we will need to watch everything we do.

  23. I want to provide an update for the people that have commented on this post.
    At the time of this original post, I mistakenly thought the ad referenced was the last insertion that ran. It turned out that there are a few others that went out prior to us stopping the creative.
    So, while my information was slightly incorrect, I felt it was important to reach out and provide a status of the situation at the time.
    Don Macdonald has posted a new statement today, so you should check that out.
    Thank you for posting your comments.

  24. If you wanted to do a multiplicity themed sprinter add wouldnt a relay team have been a better theme?

  25. Hypocrisy at work; anyone with any iota of commonsense should recognize Intel, it’s marketing agency, and those involved were not being racist or culturally insensitive – And for Intel to make such a public apology undermines the hard work involved in creatively articulating the message displayed in those ads. Any message, taken out of context can be turned into something it isn’t. Instead of apologizing for the advertisement, Intel should have touted its record… The amount of charitable, scholastic, and research donations, foreign investments throughout the world, and one of the MOST culturally diverse companies in the WOLRD. Intel is going to be shamed by organizations who cry diversity and racism yet lack diversity within their own organizations – That’s Hypocrisy. Intel has some REAL things they should apologize for in the world – diversity, racial insensitivity, or poor advertising shouldn’t even be on the list…

  26. Richard….take a deep breath. I don’t know if the moderators will post this, but there are a few incorrect assertions in your rather reactionary post. Allow me to list some of them.
    1) I agree that letting such an ad through does not in itself qualify Intel’s marketers as racists. However, if a good portion of African Americans indeed find the ad offensive, and the good-intentioned folks at Intel let it through unknowingly, doesn’t that demonstrate a lack of sensitivity to what would offend African Americans?
    2) Praytell, what organization has spoken on this issue? None that I have seen. All I have seen are some individual African American customers and professionals expressing dismay at the ad.
    3) Most advocacy groups for women, American minorities, ethnic groups, and even whites don’t necessarily exclude others. The NAACP, for example, an advocacy group for African Americans, has many white members in good standing. I was recently invited to join a Japanese-American advocacy group by some of its members, even though I am not Japanese.
    I must say, I am intrigued by your last statement: what are the “Real” things that Intel should apologize for that supplant racial insensitivity, bad advertising, and diversity (Intel should apologize for diversity?).

  27. the fact that so many people were up in arms about this ad shows yet again how over sensitive americans are about how pc everyone should be, pansies

  28. I can’t believe that this great ad was ruined by all the ridiculous prejudices that were stated above. An outstanding American poet Charles Bukowski once said in his poem:
    “..They will attempt to destroy anything
    that differs from their own
    not being able to create art
    they will not understand art…”
    That’s exactly what’s going on in this discussion.

  29. Too sensitive? Obviously it doesn’t offend you because you are a member of a privileged group. Enough said.
    Commendable that Intel is pulling the ad. It would be more commendable if they printed an apology in the publications it went out to.

  30. To those who don’t see why the ad is offensive to some, that is in fact what insensitivity means. Insensitivity is not necessarily malicious, often it is simply oblivious.
    But to try to illustrate what is offensive in the ad, suppose the text referred to augmenting the intellectual output of employees, showed six cloned bearded workers wearing yellow Stars of David, and one white guy with a small black mustache wearing light brown clothes and a swastika armband. Would that be offensive?
    The current ad is more subtle, of course, but I suspect that a similar level of oppression is represented to at least some audiences.

  31. Intel ads in general, whether in print or in video, seem to be aimed at folks that understand or appreciate “techie” humor. This is a mistake by our ad people because the general buying public won’t understand it. By contrast, have you noticed how cool and hip Apple computer ad’s are in comparison to ours? They appeal to the broader buying public, in my humble opinion. Consider using the same quality ad people that Apple uses and then sit back and enjoy the sales increases.

  32. Wow…. I didn’t realize the sprinters where anything other than, um, ‘sprinters’ until this “uproar”. After looking at the picture again, I personally can’t tell if the sprinters are hispanic, african-american or really tan. I try not focus on this sort of thing every time I look at an ad or meet a person. What a sad commentary to the human condition. After reading some of the negative responses to this, I believe that these kinds of statements only prove that we can’t see the book because we’re too busy being intrigued by the cover. People making statements that this is anything other than what it was meant to be are just looking for a reason to be outraged. There are plenty of things in this world to focus that kind of energy at but I don’t think this one is worthy of such attention.
    Dear Intel Ad folks: Please ensure for all future ads that you include one person of each race, religion (and those who don’t believe), creed, gender, and sexual orientation. Oh and, don’t forget the animals (don’t want a letter from PETA). Also, could you include some flora to ensure we show our concern for the evironment (we wouldn’t want GreenPeace to harpoon our front doors)?

  33. Political correctness gone mad, or is this a carefully planned ploy to generate advertising mileage by creating contraversy? Either way, it’s a lame advert in a series of lame, boring adverts. Bring back the Blue Men Group. Or get Weird Al’ to produce a music video (remember “It’s all about the Pentiums”?).

  34. In my opinion, the entire series of “multiply” ads looks pretty dumb. Intel should come up w/ something new and different.

  35. This is the funniest blog ever. I guess folks have to look at the color, or is it colour…hmmm…maybe everything needs to be in black and white; wait no, it needs to be white and white…maybe black and black…or no homosapians at all…
    The ad shows power of the sprinter – unless you have too much time on your hands…remember the ad nothing sucks like an electrolux…now that was a bad ad…

  36. Everyone is a critic, including me 😉 Beyond the negative image, is it just me or do they look like they are sprinting out of booths at a diner? But seriously, where’s the human connection? Do you recall the “I Remember When” video from ISMC 2005…that spoke to us about Intel innovation, emotionally connected us to the technology. This is ad embarrassing not just because of the poor choice in images, but also the lack of creativity. Now the new “Spinal Tap” videos, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!!! Great job on those!!!

  37. Well, it’s obvious to me that Intel has little choice for its future advertising direction. Basically, you need to stick to either the Blue Man Group or go back to Bunny People. The way things are going, any ad depicting any race of people will be criticized by some and therefore have to be pulled. The good news is, this reduced scope should enable headcount reduction in our advertising department:)!

  38. I think if the ad is offensive to a segment of African Americans – then it should be pulled…even IF some think that blacks are being too sensitive – that is irrelevant – just pull it.
    In response to comments about why the manager is white – you might be interested to know that there are three versions of the ad. The other two have an Eastern Indian and an Asian as manager.
    I do want to add that if you look back at all the ads intel has run in the past you will find that there are hundreds where black individuals are depicted in positions of power. Just to be fair and see the broader picture of Intel marketing.

  39. Can not believe these marketing folks never wondered that maybe, just maybe a white man standing next to 6 african man bowing would be politically incorrect…

  40. advertising is just mmmmm a advertising.
    Many people like cries and tears for nothing, or just money or they watch much tv!
    When Intel used some poor blue mens, sometimes in politically incorrect situation, they told anything!
    Free Blue Men!!!!

  41. We are a few steps toward”Cherishing differences.” First steps everybody feel right to apologize for ads like this. Second steps next time came do the same…

  42. It may or may not be relevant, but I too am an African American and a IT professional. I think in these PC times, it probably is crossing the line. If you are looking at it through objective, non-tainted eyes I agree that it looks like sprinters and some guy in business casual garb. But, Americans will first just see a dark male bowing his head to the white guy wearing nice clothes.
    It could have been worse, I am just wondering how so many people in the marketing department didn’t consider the race aspect, especially if distributed to the US.
    Also, I don’t even know if the ad is effective. Eg, why are they running towards each other? And why couldn’t the sprinter have been smiling or looking forward.

  43. when I saw the circuit news about this ad, I was thinking “ohh maybe just someone too sensitive complain, let’s search and find out a bit more”… woow this is just amazing… do you call that a professional work? first thing I see was a very offensive and racist ad… how is it possible that no one noticed it before? where is our diversity? this is completely unnaceptable.

  44. Hi Keith here. I have found the thread very interesting. I just have a couple of points.
    I understand that America has had a troubled history regarding race issues however racism is not an American owned issue nor is it a black/white issue, it is a human one. Why do so many in this thread refer to the sprinter as African-American he could be African!
    I am Irish and I have seen Irish racially abused and instigate abuse.
    Racism has a multi-direction flow it is not something simply subjected upon one race by another. There are racists in all races. If the IT manager of the ad had of been of a race other than Caucasian would we be hearing such debate? I would suggest not, because it seems to me that when it comes to offence caused ‘all are equal, but some are more equal than others’
    I would implore people not to forget a person’s intent when offence is caused. It’s ok not to go fishing for a racist, sexiest or homophobic connotation and to give someone the benefit of the doubt regarding their intent because if we do scratch deeper you can be certain that somebody somewhere will take offence.

  45. I have to say that “brotherpeacemaker” has it right. HOW in the world did this make it past your marketing department? And this is the SECOND time? It really begs the question if someone high up in Intel is a racist. I am the last one to make a mountain out of mole hill; but how in the name of common sense you could even look at this and not see that millions of people would only see several black men bowing down to a white manager beats me. SHAME on you and your organization. Nothing short of FIRING the responsible party will convince me that you are not a racist organization. I am selling the little stock I own in your company and will tell anyone who will listen to do the same. At the end of the day, THANK YOU for apologizing; but the fact that it made it past the idea room into print tells me it was planned that way from the beginning. Either that, or you are a very insensitive and bigoted organization.
    pete costas

  46. All I saw was sprinters, not a bunch of black guys bowing down to a white guy. You’re a little bit oversensitive.

  47. “All I saw was sprinters, not a bunch of black guys bowing down to a white guy. You’re a little bit oversensitive.”
    That is the thing though. I didnt see a sprinter at first. That is the issue, intel marketing should have made it more apparent that the cloned guy was a racer. If you look at it quickly, you see dark, guys of African descent head, eyes staring into the ground. Don’t see any racing shoes, I guess we have to assume that his attire is that of racer but can’t be too sure. He isn’t smiling or looking forward. He looks beaten as opposed to he is about to win a race. Doesn’t make it any better that these cloned characters are facing each other. I haven’t heard of a race where half the runners are on one side and the other on the other side, facing each other.

  48. I honestly did not see anything wrong with the ad; who cares if your white black pink orange green or yellow? We are all humans!
    There are people starving and getting killed in Africa by other Africans.. There are Chinese getting killed and looked down upon by other Chineese in China… There are Arabs getting killed and looked down by other Arabs simply because they do not beleive in the same thing… So what is the deal between whites and blacks? I think it is stupid! Step outside the box for a minute and view the paradox of whites and blacks… You think whites are superior to blacks? Or vice versa? It is lame… White people are no different than blacks o different than chineese no different than arabs… We are all God’s children.. When you stand before God, he does not care of you are white or black or whatever! So people.. It is time you all grow up! Peace..

  49. Intel spends millions of dollars and hundreds of personnel in its marketing strategy. When you have that much resources being spent on your marketing strategies, you do not have the luxury of making mistakes. Somebody working on the ad had to spot the fact that regardless of your intentions, the ad does have a subliminal message. You are helping to reinforce stereotypes. There would have been no discussion of racism if there was at least one sprinter of a different race. People don’t feel offended for no reason. My suggestion: next time when you make an advertisement, take a look at how diverse your IT personnel is, and bring that diversity to your advertisements. If that’s not possible, then at least try to refrain from reinforcing stereotypes.

  50. If the ad had the guy in the center holding up a track gun to the ceiling then the ad would have made sense.

  51. Someone tell me the last time there was a white Olympic sprinter from the United States. For that matter, tell me the last time a white sprinter placed in the top five of any Olympic event in the last 20 years. I’ll wait. Waiting. Still waiting.

  52. The media is largely controlled by “The People”, so whether you find it offensive or not enough of “The People” do…take the recent ad in New Yorks Time Square for example….the ad was showing a bunch of nude people showing there back side for a new self cleaning toilet seat…enough of “The People” seen it as crude and offensive and the ad was covered…When doin advertisements in america we must look at the bigger picture for we are a sensitive country. Its hard to forget the past when the past continually shines its bitter face at you. so if we have so much power when a select group, neighborhood, or region of people get together to say something…imagine what we could do if we’d stick together as a nation of Americans….
    Also if the role was opposite there probably wouldn’t be any complaints for the simple fact that whites was never slaves to blacks in America so that argument does not suffice…
    I do feel that we are an over sensitive country, but we are all to blame, because racism do indeed still exist everywhere. even if it were not intended in this particular situation (I do strongly believe that it was not intended) until we truely become color blind and we stop classifying and catagorizing ourselves seperately instead of just American this issue will continue to arise.
    I appreciate Intel for their understanding and cooperation eventhough you don’t have to agree with a person yet understand were they are coming from, which creates a more powerful company. One that has compassion for the american people regardless of skin color, which will payoff in the long run…

  53. Thank you for the statement. It was well said.
    I saw this on snopes.com, and it was the first time I had seen the ad. I was basically playing a game of “What’s wrong with this picture?” The first thing I noticed was the true intent: sprinters preparing for a run, sybolizing speed and determination.
    And almost immediately after, I thought I had decided what was wrong: I thought that the image of all of these people bowing before one person was a little too God-complex. As a Christian, I was not offended, but I was wary, and I could see that it was probably not wise to let the image go public.
    I did not notice the race. After reading the concerns of others, I looked at the picture again. Honestly, as at least one other person has stated, I couldn’t tell what race they were. The lighting on the sprinters made me think that some of them were white but with shadows.

  54. It was 40 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream … that one day his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character.
    How sad is it that this ad was judged by the color of skin? If the color of skin of the characters had been reversed, would there have been an outcry?
    Intel should be applauded for acting as quickly as it did based on the response. It’s too bad that their Marketing team seems to be at a point where skin color didn’t matter – or wait, isn’t that what Dr. King dreamed?
    But if I’m going to worry about who the racists really are … well Intel’s corporate character and civic responsibility has been proven time and again over most of the last 40 years.
    Why is it, that in 2007, there is still a faction of people who act as if Dr. King never had a dream. Or as if Rosa Parks never kept her seat. Or as if Jackie Robinson never rose to the challege. And more importantly, why they think their experience could even be compared to any of the three I just mentioned.
    Those pointing fingers seem to be the one stuck with a racist mentality and mindset. So if you want racism to end, start with yourself first.

  55. just wanted to chime in to say its not a spectacular ad, but I don’t see anything offensive.
    Further more, I do not believe there was any racist intent. No huge faceless corporation is going to intentionally put out a racist ad. Any creative firm working on the design for a huge faceless corporation is going to put out a racist ad. Its bad for their image which is bad for profits.
    No design firm working for a client the size of intel is going to intentionally put out a racist ad. It ruins their credibility which is bad for profits.
    i think some people here could benefit from googling “confirmation bias”

  56. Regardless of the ad seemingly to be racist or not, I would have to ask this question. If the black guy was in the white guys shoes, and there was a bunch of white sprinters, will there still be a racial issue? I would say no. I am black myself, and think that while Intel might should have done more thinking, I really don’t see a problem with this ad. Black people will complain that they are not on the ad, and will complain about things like this, makes me to believe maybe we ourselves are keeping racism alive. As for why are they facing themselves, I believe the photo is telling us that there is a different PC to every cubicle there, and all of the sprinters doesn’t make up one cpu, but an office full of fast and powerful PCs. I would rather even take this as a racial slur against the out-of-shape white guy.
    BTW. If the Black Sprinters are suppose to be a CPU, then isn’t the sprinters suppose to be “smart”.

  57. ( PT-BR )bom dia eu em primeiro lugar quero falar que sou negro e em segundo lugar eu nao vi nada de racista no comercial pois quem trabalha com informatica encaram com outros olhos qualquer tipo de propaganda da area de informatica
    eu entendi o que a intel quis dizer …
    que nao adianta contratar super profissionais se não tem super computadores entendem … )
    ( EN )good morning I in the first place I want to speak that I am black person and in second place I nao I saw nothing of racist in the commercial one therefore who work with informatica face with others any eyes kind of publicity of the scours of informatica
    I understood what to intel wanted to said… That nao is going to hire super professionals itself does not have super computers understand… )

  58. I don’t think many people (supporters and protesters of the ad, alike) truly understand why the ad was offensive.
    The ad is generally oppressing and subliminally racist for a number of clear reasons. Here’s a list of the oppressing and subliminally racist themes.
    Black people will always be employees and not employers.
    White men will always be employers and not employees.
    Black people will always be expected to do all the work for an organization.
    Black men are commercial products – machines or animals – whose purpose is to only follow directions (as a computer).
    Most degrading is the theme that Black men should worship and bow to white superiors.
    With all of the intellectuals at Intel, how could they allow this to slip out? One could almost presume that they are just throwing the image out into the public domain to gain ‘free impressions’ of their new product, under the guise that “this ad’s appropriateness will be discussed by [on blogs]”, but more importantly displayed (free impressions) to a highly informed and conscious set of consumers. Essentially, any company can promote a new product by giving it’s customers something very thought provoking to discuss around the advertisement medium or advertisement concept. Bad publicity is better than no publicity – for Intel, this could have actually been a really safe move.

  59. When I heard about this, I couldn’t imagine how runners lined up to “multiply the power” of the microprocessor could be percieved as offensive, and then I saw the picture. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, yet this one does nothing to sell the benefit of using the product, and for most consumers, the benefit may not be obvious. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this picture took perceptions in a very distinct direction and was seen as offensive. Two suggestions, 1) develop ads that get back to the basics and clearly communicate the “wow” nature of what you are selling. Using abstract ad ideas that assume consumers know what the product wow is seem to be ineffective. 2) Make sure ad images, and messages are reviewed, and NOT by techies who understand the underlying messages, but by reviewers who do not (ie, the average consumer who isn’t a high techie) This would help assure that your adds reach the average person, and resonate. Remember the ad that reduced a savvy business woman into a ditz because her boss caught her working remotely at the spa, this insulted women, and totally missed on the key point of connecting “anytime, anywhere.” Keep trying, hopefully, you will get in right in the future..

  60. Whether intentional or not, this is probably the best print ad Intel has published. I googled the title of the ad and there are pages of results. This means that more people are seeing the ad and the product it was to represent. Should the ad have been done differently??…probably so. But you know what they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  61. that’s too bad that this had to have happened this way. People dig too deep to find flaws in everything.

  62. Dear Intel:
    A “gee, we’re so sorry” apology is not going to cut it with this one. How the hell you let this go to print, I have NO idea but I am definently putting you and your company on MAJOR BLAST on my website. Not only is your ad demeaning and insulting to African-Americans with your images of us as nothing more then HUMAN RUNNING MACHINES, but the fact that you have them bowing down to a SMIRKING WHITE MAN really seals the deal.
    It’s 2007, you moron’s, I suggest you EMPLOY AN ETHNIC OR MULTICULTURAL AD AGENCY and try and use some damn common sense next time, it doesn’t take a genius to see that this ad is a complete insult.
    Please believe you are going on my blog first thing tomorrow morning.

  63. M-ManLA good point:
    Black people will complain that they are not on the ad, and will complain about things like this, makes me to believe maybe we ourselves are keeping racism alive.
    You only find racism if you want to find, this ad is not racist, but if you want to find racism, you will find racism in this or in every ad you want.

  64. I am an Intel employee, so what is really interesting to me is how an ad like this could have slipped through the cracks. Intel is one of the most diverse companies in America, and we take considerable pride in that… Yet, an ad like this would have passed through dozens of hands before being approved. I’m not in marketing, and I’m hardly an expert on advertising strategy – but it only took my “untrained eyes” a brief moment to realize how terribly offensive it was. Why our marketing team couldn’t see the same is beyond reproach.

  65. After seeing the ad I definitely agree it was in poor taste and I commend Intel for making the apology. It would have probably been better to have the sprinters be mixed race. However, I think the incident has been a bit blown out of proportion. Is it really feasible that Intel, a multi-national company would purposely create an ad to denigrate black people? It is always interesting to see how personally offended people get from things like this. It really shows how many people really have a chip on their shoulder.

  66. Why are people so enthusiastic to look for racism wherever they can? Why can’t we judge intentions instead of worst-case interpretations? Are our lives really this miserable?

  67. Shame! Shame! Intel
    So all that diversity training was just talk? This should have never gone to press.

  68. Thank you for removing the ad and maybe you should try diversifying the ads department. I don’t think any person of color would have thought this was appropriate…something to think about.

  69. Nancy
    In a nutshell the ad is stupid. Why would you even attempt to offend the very same people that you try to attract to buy your product. I work in a marketing department and if you need to use racial images to sell it. What does that say about your product? I’m not going to Thank you or commend you for aplogizing. Keep your apology. Don’t create offensive ads. Simple!!


  71. I almost started this entry with “As a ___ woman…” when I realized that race, gender, etc. is a secondary issue. When I first saw the ad when it was shared by another viewer who was upset by the issue, my first thought was “I understand what they [Intel] are trying to convey, but I can see the challenge”.
    1. The first challenge is that it doesn’t make sense. Period.
    2. When something doesn’t make sense, we try to rationalize the image to comprehend what we are receiving. For instance, Sprinters = fast, but are they running really fast to the customer (i.e. it works really fast for “you”) or based on the closed in surrounding (low ceiling/oppressive building structure, the channels) are they even going anywhere? So is this the closed environment of a comupter/motherboard or is something being oppressed? The sprinters aren’t even ready to run. I think they are in the “Get Ready” position so are you telling the customer to “Get Ready” for this new product, or are they simply bowing? To whom? get the drift?
    3. In trying to make sense of it all, we (humans, in general) tend to focus on historical experience or surroundings. Unfortunately, for a lot of minorities, especially Blacks, Africans, and African Americans slavery, even in a perceived sense is a VERY sensitive issue because of it’s significant impact throughout many generations. I would caution however, that we don’t dismiss the isssue by saying simply “if they weren’t Black, there wouldn’t be a problem” because the concept of slavery/oppression has played out in different ways/systems with many populations and could have been just as volatile. For instance? If they were all “White” but one had more German influence and the other Jewish, would you not have a similar outcry? East Indian & English? We can go on for days.
    So the point is that it’s clear that there were many messages in the ad that could innocently “sell” the product. However, the imagery was improperly applied in a manner where the concepts could not “play out” in most readers minds causing them to rationalize the creative contributors intent. That rationalization resonated negatively and significantly with a population [Blacks] who had been substantially affected by their particular history [of slavery].
    That, my dear Intel, is an issue of someone simply making a mistake in design that may have caused you to receive the mistaken identity of being racist. I disagree that the insulted party here needs reparations. They do however, deserve a SIGNIFICANTLY PROMINENT apology in EVERY media outlet where this ad ran as well as MAJOR media outlets, and in even some of the “Black” publications due to the increased exposure of this issue. Further, we all need to see this not happen again.
    Failure to take proper action beyond simply leaving an apology on this website may give fuel to negative perception causing a bad decision to be bad for business for a longer period than necessary. You can’t be the ostrich here. Don’t bury your head in the sand.
    – From a Latina Woman who does have more distant ties in lineage to Africa

  72. The real issue is not to apologize to the offended community but to realize – and FIX – the offense itself, namely that the upper management remains predominantly white and male and therefore cannot even see why the ad was offensive.

  73. Totally absurd. I will go ahead and “blatantly disregard” anyone who pulled out the race card because of this ad.

  74. I am not an advertising exec or a sprinter but I am African American and I am insulted. I do not understand why the company felt this was the best way to sell their product. Why is it even necessary to “paint this picture”? Clearly, the objective was not achieved.

  75. I think this ad is also notable in highlighting how broken Intel’s advertising and marketing efforts have been since the heyday of the bunny men campaigns. For a company with Intel’s resources and storied past, it amazes me how consistently awful your advertising campaigns have been and how poorly the recent brand “evolution” was executed.
    Intel used to be a great company who was a shining beacon of corporate America, but since the dot com crash, the company has lost its way and I’m not sure if it is capable of restoring its former greatness.
    This shockingly offensive gaffe is merely the icing on the cake. I am ashamed the company I used to proudly work for would let something this glaringly stupid out into the world.

  76. I happened upon your ad after listening to an NPR story. I’ll admit that when I listened to the story I thought that this was probably being blown a bit out of proportion.
    When I actually saw the ad I was SHOCKED. I appreciate that you apologized, but I think you are missing the big picture. The idea that someone could look at this and NOT find it offensive or at least not raise the issue is unbelievable to me. I don’t think I need to explain all the racist imagery — come on, six cloned faceless black men bowing down to some dorky white guy in khakis?
    I think your apology misses the point. I know only about your products and little about your company, but this ad smacks of a lack of cognitive diversity, creative thinking, and openness for ideas at your company that I find troubling not just in terms of your advertising but in terms of your ability to create worthwhile products. The previously favorable view I had of your company has been severely and perhaps irrevocably tarnished.

  77. As an African American male who works in the public sector I do not find the ad racist, but it is extremelly insensitive to the well documented struggle of Af-Am’s in the US. It makes me wonder if any black men or women are assigned to the Integrated Marketing Division of the company. For me, this is the type of unintentional, but still painful, stereotypical advertising that is produced when ther are no Black people in the room to say “Wait a minute…”

  78. Forgive me if these comments have already been made, but before completely absolving ourselves, I’d like to point out two other issues with the ad in addition to the bowing imagery. First, although the workers seem to have been selected for speed, the manager does not seem to be the fastest of the fast. The picture shows a workplace that is inherently not a meritocracy with the minorities occupying the bottom rung. This magnifies an already negative image. Second, photoshop-wise, the workers are all copies of the same person. Imagery-wise, the black runner is an undifferentiated “non-individual”. Many companies have replaced their “valuing diversity” cultural statements with “valuing the individual”. Using the duplicated runner really flies in the face of valuing individuals.
    On several occasions, I have had the opportunity to hear Anne Fudge (Chair of Y&R Brands) speak about advertising to African Americans. From this very casual education, the mere fact that you included African Americans in the add would automatically garner significantly raised attention from other African Americans. Highlighting the uneven social status is something below a rookie mistake.

  79. I learned about this ad via the NPR story as well. Upon first glance, I would not say that the sprinters are bowing down, but I can see how some can say that it is offensive.
    Actually, I believe that the ad and its concept misses the point of the intended message. That is one of the fundamental problems of ads today. They don’t necessarily promote the subject but some unrelated, subjective concept. This ad really lacks the power and performance which you were attempting to illustrate. If you were attempting to illustrate a powered down, idle computer, just waiting to be turned on, then, I guess the point was made. But, if you want to illustrate power and performance, then maybe the sprinters should have been in action. Even if the gun does go off, they are going to run into each other. How silly is that? I realize that they could represent latent power ready to be released, but this ad just dosen’t do that, in my opinion. The latent power of you processors have no value. Only when they are integrated in a production system are they useful and their actual power is realized.
    In a day when collaborative methodologies are being used in day to day business, this is so “old school”, where you have a manager dominating his subjects. Bottom line, I guess that what this represents, whether intended or not.

  80. It is very sad that many of those who said the ad being pulled off is absurd because they dont live the life of the “character” being potrayed. I am a systems engineer and I cannot stress enough that despite my qualifications someone at the restaurant where I am dining at will always ask me for the bill because I only look qualified to be a server(stereotype).
    This ad only reinforces the theme of “Blacks play, Whites rule” Its simple if you havent lived through the oppression you dont see anything wrong with it. Thanks Intel for pulling it off.

  81. My God are people such idiots???? Rhetorical
    question, of course they are. The men in Sprint positon are beautiful and I noticed
    them more than the guy in the middle. Some
    people need to concentrate on the positives in life not the negatives (of which this
    add is not a negative). People can be
    ignorant and take umbrage over the stupidest

  82. I suppose if this were isolated, it would be easier to overlook as an error. However, Intel has a recent track record for not understanding how to reach the consumer appropriately through direct communication. Recent evidence: ads last year for that had incomprehensible “contrasts” – a notable example was the message using a person of color (Seal, as the entertainer) and some nameless white matron who seemed shocked to find him on her lap. Another ad – a Chinese market execution – depicted core processing power as “twins”, but in a manner that easily led the reader to perceive it as a badly executed beer ad. The ad certainly didn’t create the impression that Intel believed women were smart consumers, but rather a type of “bait”. Whether or not this was a US or global execution, it represented a tragically outdated view of women.
    The Intel marketing squad seems to be unaware of how to brief and execute on creative that actually moves the consumer to action. Dangerous to see how easily they offend with their lack of clarity on what they’re trying to say. There is nothing fresh or thought provoking about what I’ve seen in the last two years from them; certainly, I learn more from store clerks and public reports than I do from their effortful advertising and marketing work.
    It’s questionable whether or not Intel should even bother with consumer-facing marketing, since it’s just not a currently a strong point for a technically excellent corporation. Better, perhaps, to partner with B2B partners who touch consumers and understand them better, and develop messaging that way. In my view, this execution and those before it (since McCann) constitute a misuse of shareholder resources. An entire division is trying to do what they are really not suited to do – to talk to the personal computing consumer that they simply don’t eem to know. Every company does not need a giant marketing department to be successful – they need strategy about how to reach consumers. If the marketing department does exist, then they owe it to shareholders to be out in the market, to be current and appropriate in their thinking, and to connect to their consumers in a meaningful way. This ad certainly illustrates that Intel’s internal marketing team and their agency doesn’t really know who their consumer is today. Better to stick to their knitting – technological excellence – than to try to create some marketing buzz without the internal strategy and marketing breadth to do so.
    Intel: Use resellers and partners to help carry your techinical excellence message forward, or find an agency and combination of talent that can create actual buzz without messing messaging up at high cost to shareholders.

  83. I am a black woman and I don’t find the ad offensive at all. I really don’t understand why people got so offended by it. We say we are so strong and tough, but then we get upset about something like this?!?!? Whoa. I feel sorry for those that really let this get to them!

  84. I have not seen this ad but I have an offer to depict the multi-core processors as dragons flying over with a whistle from the Lords of the Rings as infinite resources when added for the victory.
    The question is over what company? Intel is anyway a undisputable leader between the processors makers (like Microsoft for office software) – but the multi-core processor is a wild herd of horses for programmers that require new *unexisting in Nature – time is a unidirectional dimension – no time machines* programming languages unless it’s the Cell processor having a head (PU) to control the computing resources (APUs) made by IBM, Sony and Toshiba.

  85. Well this black woman was offended.
    I printed out the picture and left it on the table for my 15 year old daughter to find. I didn’t leave any of the article, just the picture.
    She came to me and asked, “Is this for real or is this some kind of joke.” When I assured her that it had been a real ad campaign she asked, “Do they have a website. I want to write them a letter.” I can’t wait to read what she writes to Intel.
    I posted the picture on my blog and my husband ran across it (didn’t know he read my blog, thanks Intel) and his response: Damn. Just damn.
    That’s all he said, but I knew what he meant.
    Just when you think white people are getting a clue something like this pops up and you feel as though you’re back in the age of the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow, the Era of Lynching and Reconstruction all rolled up into one.
    For all the white folks who don’t get it, wake up. For all the black folks who “weren’t offended”, wake up.
    As for Intel, who at least is willing to admit their mistake, kudos but for heaven’s sake stop paying lip service to diversity and actually HIRE some hyphenated-Americans.

  86. Everyone makes mistakes. Too bad the material was taken out of context. Your intensions are obviously apolitically gracious with your abdicating the Ads from production. As for an idea on a replacement how about the Star Trek story where the “computer” program multiplies herself (however to destroy her target) conveying less of a hot button, but identifies with anyone techie who dreams of replication and the ability to jump into hyper space, thus the Sci-Fi edge.

  87. Is it possible to see the video? Maybe after seeing it, I can say something in my own opinion whether it’s offensive or not.

  88. I forwarded this to a friend of mine who works for an advertsing agency and she was floored that this made it through the first clearance process—much less all the way through towards publication. The one thing marketing execs are taught is to look at an ad objectively and look for any possible way it can be misconstrued in the eyes of the public.
    For those who say it’s not racist, they’re missing the cultural context behind the opposition. This is a country where not very long ago blacks were kept as slaves by white people. That is a solid part of history that still stands as a thorn in the side of all American’s.
    After taking some time to really read all about this advertising campaign, I finally see the point Intel was trying to make—although it took some time and eye-squinting for it to sink in. My time-elasped reaction to this ad went as such:
    (sees picture for the first time)“Whoa—are those black men bowing to a white slave owner?!”
    (looks closer) “No wait, when I look closer I see they’re all runners ready to sprint, but then…why are they all black sprinters? Why not mix up the runners with non-black individuals?”
    (looks even closer) “Oh wait..I think it’s the same black guy photoshopped 6 times over an over again. Was that laziness on the part of the producer?”
    (reads public statement by Intel’s VP) “Ahh..I see they photoshopped him in an effort to visually represent the multiply computing processes aspect of the add…I get it multiply the runners…”
    Any ad that requires that much research and insight on the part of the viewer is an incredibly poorly executed advertisement. Where did these marketing execs go to school??

  89. All of us, we have bad ideas. The superiority of civilization is that we accept to speak, write and act only from our good ideas. Now, the problem is that the computer civilization is too fast for our human capacities. Apologizing is the good attitude for this inevitable events. So Intel is a civilized company.
    Antoine Delblond

  90. This ad is “offensive” because some people are forever trying to be offended. I would also submit that more than a few of the people on this forum who take offense at the Intel ad, would not take offense at virulent (and by comparison intentionally offensive) anti-white comments made by the likes of Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. In other words, while relatively subtle racism (as purportedly evident in the Intel ad) targeted at one group must be condemned, blatant racism targeted at another doesn’t merit comment. The point is that a lot of so-called racism is a one-way street. People yell and scream about racism in one instance, then completely ignore more strident, ugly forms of it another. That’s why the problem is so intractable and, unless people are more honest with themselves, basically unsolvable. I would hope that Intel doesn’t think it needs to remedy an “offensive” ad by appeasing one group of people and then, as a result, insulting another.

  91. Wow, talk about seeing something that’s not there! I suppose the people who found the ad offensive can find racism just about anywhere they want: “Oh look at that ad – the white man is standing in front of the the black man – those racist ad execs are obviously saying that black people are inferior and so belong behind white people!” You people make me sick. In my opinion, you only help to perpetuate racism, while most of the rest of us just see people as people, not black or white. Intel owed no one an apology.

  92. Personally (and I know there are others who have agreed with me), I think Intel helped to make a mountain out of a molehill. I think the ad was ‘dumb’ and not very well done but I have thought that about several Intel commercials. Just because it’s not a good commercial or ad doesn’t make it a racist ad and mean we need to jump through hoops to have everyone from CEO on down apologize. I think in Intel’s strive to become more ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ (which we aren’t) it has slipped several times (i.e. the Mariah Carey commercial). I think there will continue to be slip ups but don’t feel the need to apologize for each one.
    When I saw the ad, it was obvious they were sprinters and I didn’t immediately make the jump that these were 6 black men bowing down to a white master. It basically looked like someone took one sprinter, photo-shopped (copied) it 6 times and there they were in their sprint stance. The fact that people immediately jump to other conclusions highlights their racial bias (not Intel’s). As a man living in this country and as someone who has spent their whole life as a black (not African-American) male, I am tired of having people try to push a racial bias or PC into every situation that occurs. I think that is part of what’s holding this country back from becoming truly color blind.

  93. I simply can not believe that in the 21st century, a big and respected corporation like Intel can deliver such a racist ad. Just been visiting some slave ships and some plantations to learn about American history…
    This ad makes me wonder if institutional racism is certainly very present at Intel.

  94. I don’t get the problem. Thankfully we in Australia aren’t so over-reactive. Can I assume that all the people who were offended by this ad will be complaining to the IOC at the next Olympics when black sprinters are at the blocks and a white guy is standing nearby with the starters pistol? Doesn’t that portray the same type of imagery as in this ad, only potentially more violent? It is clearly obvious that the black guys are sprinters, not subservient slaves, and anyone who reads more into that really needs to get their priorities straight.

  95. I am surprised no one ever caught this. This was not cool…and kind of dumb because if the “sprinters” were ready to run, they would run into each other how they are positioned. They do look like they are bowing. If it were about the computer, why is the entire work environment STRIPPED of everything, except 1 white and 6 black dudes, that would lead to that conclusion? What would have been sweet is same guy in an Intel shirt under his oxford, khakis, glasses, then sprinters with all the running gear and tags with competitors’ names instead of numbers, maybe 3 black, 2 white, and this dude in the lead, in a photo finish type shot, staged of course. People would get that. Or Put the same guys in a frozen runners stance on the desktops of these cubicles and have no one in the middle. Either way the racial implications cannot be overlooked. Those who are insensitive to these unexpected interpretations usually have had the luxury of being excluded from such offenses.

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