'Pretty ham-fisted attempt': New anti-racism ad sparks online criticism

A new anti-racism ad campaign launched by the Human Rights Commission has been slammed as “unrealistic and divisive”.

A 30-second ad titled, “Elevator – Racism. It Stops With Me”, is meant to highlight “casual or everyday racism in a work environment”.

In the video, a man in a suit gets into a lift.

A blonde white woman rushes after him and he stops, steps back and holds the lift for her.

The man holds the lift for the white woman. Source: YouTube

“Allow me,” he says.

"Thank you," she replies and steps in.

He then sees another woman, of African appearance, running to get into the lift but won’t hold the door for her.

The blonde woman stops the door from shutting, steps out next to the other woman and both glare at the man as he stands alone in the lift.

“Racism. It stops with me”, the title reads.

A woman races to get in the lift. Source: YouTube

Conservative radio and television host Paul Murray posted the ad to his Facebook page with the caption: "Not a sketch, not a joke. THIS is what HRC thinks 'White Men' do in lifts. What rubbish!"

Many social media users furiously criticised the ad saying they had never seen such behaviour in the workplace.

"I'm dark skinned and this has NEVER EVER happened to me in my 45 years. The divisiveness from this mob is truly breathtaking," wrote one.

"As a brown skinned female who is 52 years old, I have never experienced any form of racism in my life," another commented.

Advertising expert Adam Ferrier told the Weekend Sunrise team that while he thought it was great to see a campaign tackling racism, the advertisement was a “pretty ham-fisted attempt” and suggested it needed “more subtlety”.

“Advertising is not good at changing deep-seated values and views,” he said.

“People in these ads are obviously very, very racist and so it’s not really going to help change those types of views.”

“The people who are responding badly obviously have deeply entrenched racist views, and an ad isn't going to help that.”

Some have argued that the ad isn't realistic. Source: YouTube

On Facebook, one user suggested the man may not have held the lift for the woman for other reasons.

“Maybe she works in his office and every day she steals his yoghurt from the fridge that he specifically writes his name on, so he didn't want to hold the lift for her? Now he looks like the bad guy!” they suggested.

When asked if she thought the ad “missed the mark”, advertising guru Jane Caro said, “No I don’t” and applauded the HRC for the ad.

“Because I suspect they want to spark discussion about racism,” Ms Caro said.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner says Aussies experience racism doing 'everyday things'. Source: YouTube

“And I think all of us who go on Facebook know all sorts of racist incidents can and do happen in all sorts of societies.

“I saw one very recently about an Indigenous woman trying to get a cab, and the taxi driver screaming for a white woman to get in in front of her even though the Indigenous woman was first in the queue.”

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said racism frequently occurs at work and while people are doing “everyday things”.

The ad is one of two, which will air in the next two months. Source: YouTube

“This might come as a surprise to Australians who tend to think that racism is a thing of the past. But independent research and the experiences of many people tells us otherwise,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

“The Scanlon Foundation’s Australians Today survey, for example, found 54 per cent of respondents with an African background and 59 per cent of Indigenous respondents experienced racial discrimination in the previous 12 months.”

The elevator ad and a second one will screen on free-to-air TV networks for the next two months.