Week 1: The Role of Perspective in Development

‘How we see a thing…is very much dependent on where we stand in relationship to it’. (Thiong’o, 1969)

A few years ago, I was waiting at Takoradi in a trotro (a public bus in Ghana); I was waiting because trotros always need to be full of people and cargo before they move anywhere, which can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. Various sellers were persuading me to buy the usual assortment of  chewing gum, toy cars, pies, boiled eggs, face flannels and mobile top up cards. I was enjoying a chocolate ‘Fan Ice’ when a man with a stick appeared at the door – I immediately assumed he was asking for money, and looked away. He then got onto the bus and slid into the seat next to me; I realised, horrified at the bias of my own perception, that he was a paying customer like me, but was blind and needed support. It is exactly people like me, having poorly formed views and unchecked biases, that makes life difficult for those with disabilities. It is also a telling sign of disability in Ghana that I’d only ever seen a blind person begging at the road side before, and never sitting in the transport alongside me, hence the swift assumption based on faulty inductive reasoning.

One of the aims of this course is to find ways to close the divisions that exist between people through conversation and education – whether that divide exists between people of different places, different religions,  different gender or sexuality, or different educational backgrounds. I hope that together we can explore ways to consider how we can collectively play a role in this task. In these conversations, we do not always need find agreement in viewpoints and values, but gain further appreciation of what brought a person to such a view. As Appiah (a Ghanaian born philosopher – I recommend you read his Cosmopolitanism), suggests: ‘conversation doesn’t have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values; it’s enough that it helps people to get used to one another.’ Perhaps there are some values that we can hope to converge on, but upon others, total agreement seems unlikely.

This image is known as the ‘duck rabbit’. Some people will see the duck first, others the rabbit. You may then be able to switch between the two – as Wittgenstein notes in his Philosophical Investigations (an absolute must-read on the philosophy of language), you first see either that it is a duck, or that it is a rabbit. Then when you see the possibility that there are two ways of seeing the image, you see it as a duck or as a rabbit. To me, this image reminds me that the most important starting point for introducing themes in international development, in my mind, is to develop critical self-awareness of how our own perspective, culture and upbringing shapes how we frame the reality we are analysing, considering, crucially, our power relationship with that reality. The duck rabbit also conveys the idea that we are able to see things differently, if we commit to placing ourselves in different metaphorical shoes.

This very famous TED Talk from Adichie (a famous Nigerian author – read Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel set in the Nigerian civil war or Americanah, which partly offers perspectives on identity), perfectly explains ‘The Danger of a Single Story’. I’d really encourage you to find time to watch it all (this is just a short clip), and think of her ideas as an important lens through which to view much of the discussions in this course.

Key questions to consider as you watch this:

  • In what areas have you been influenced by only hearing a ‘single story’? What ‘single stories’ of poverty have you been influenced by?
  • How can we widen people’s perspective and encourage them to consider a perspective that is not usually heard on a topic?

It is clear that widening our perspective and considering the stories of others is central to any exploration of international development. Ian McEwan states powerfully in his book Enduring Love, we live:

‘In the mist of half-shared, unreliable perception, and our sense data has come warped by a prism of desire and belief, which tilted our memories too. We saw and remembered in our own favour, and we persuaded ourselves along the way.’

It is a difficult but important task to be aware of the impact of our own desires upon our judgments with respect to the facts, but I think it is vitally important to try, and to think of ways to change the way in which we persuade ourselves to certain beliefs, when they may lack poor logical foundations, particularly in our current ‘fake news’ political landscape where social media platforms are certainly not epistemologically neutral have been seen as ‘echo chambers’ of our own opinions.

In this exploration of the facts, it is imperative to ensure that we always treat fellow humans as  autonomous (self-governing) beings with a voice and mind-set, with interests and abilities often not remarkably distinct to our own. It is useful to remember that there is an asymmetry in our relationship with those with limited access to knowledge of us and our way of life – whilst we may be in the fortunate position of being able to educate ourselves to think about their lives and their development, they may not be with respect to us, or indeed have a sufficient voice in the analysis of their own progression as a country, or as citizens. Should we even be commenting on their development, if they cannot, upon ours? I wonder how many courses exist in Africa, where pupils comment on the best route forward for the development of the UK? How many pupils in India consider how the UK could better tackle issues relating to education, poverty, mental health, and welfare?  This recognition of imbalance, and the need for autonomy and constant focus on giving voice to those who have been voiceless is a vital framework for our discussion.

It would also seem odd to consider the lives of the poor in isolation from the lives of the rich, for they are constantly connected. We will consider critically the recommendation of Susan George (1974) that we should:

‘study the rich and powerful, not the poor and powerless…Let the poor study themselves. They already know what is wrong with their lives and if you truly want to help them, the best you can do is to give them a clearer idea of how their oppressors are working now and can be expected to work in the future.’

In Sen’s Freedom as Development, a must-read work which has informed the way in which the international community has formulated concepts of development, we are asked to consider freedom as both ‘the means and the end of development’, suggesting that development should aim to create freedoms for people that should enable them to make their own decisions about their development. We certainly need to be aware (as Said argues in his Orientatalism), of assuming that western societies are developed, rational and superior, with the concept of ‘development’ having some universally agreed end. When considering development in Africa and many other ‘developing’ countries, an awareness of the impact of colonial rule is vital and a reflection on the postcolonial approach will be a central element of this course.

History is, to some extent, an art of threading different perspectives into one coherent narrative on what has occurred; Appiah speaks of human experience as a shattered mirror, where each element reflectsdifferent values and none can claim to be the entire reflection of humanity – a traditional Ghanaian Anansi Tale, Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom , similarly warns us of the error in thinking that one person can be in possession of all the facts. At the end of this tale, Anansi (who thought he held all the facts in his pot of wisdom) realises that his son is able to give him advice about how to carry the pot. His reaction is:

“Anansi angrily threw the pot to the ground, where it smashed into millions of pieces. The wisdom scattered all over the world. People found bits of the wisdom and took them home to their families. That is why no one person has all of the wisdom in the world and why we share wisdom with each other when we exchange ideas.”

I really hope this course can act as a means for exchanging ideas between people in different countries, enriching the inter-cultural learning for all involved and critically evaluating all the actions we take in the name of ‘development’ and ‘charity’ to ensure sustainable and community-led impact.


1. Watch this advertisement for Innocent Smoothie, a fruit drink product sold across the world and owned 90% by Coco Cola. Innocent Drinks has pledged to give at least 10% of all its profits to charity every year.

Write a post below answering some of the following questions: How is the African continent portrayed in this advert? How is development portrayed? Does it match with your own perception of Africa, and the idea of ‘development’? Are there any assumptions or ‘single stories’? How do you think the advert could be improved or changed? Explain your answers.

2. Comment on at least one other person’s post.

NB Please post using first names only for privacy reasons, and include your country in brackets – e.g. Stephen (Ghana)


Here are a few other additional reading/listening suggestions for those specifically interested in the African context and culture:

African Non-Fiction Book of the Week

African Fiction Book of the Week: 

African Song of the Week:

Do email me with any suggestions for any element of this course. Or if you’d like to write a review blog for a book yourself, let me know. 

Cat Davison and the EduSpots team 


Please reference this page if using this article.

133 thoughts on Week 1: The Role of Perspective in Development

  1. To begin with, I think that there are better ways to tell people that part of their money goes to charity than this. They could have a short profile from a beneficiary of the project rather than showing this stereotypical video. Secondly, the fact that those people got a cow doesn’t necessarily mean that all things would fall into place for that family-it takes much more than a cow to develop in that manner. I also don’t like the idea of the “good school” shown in the video-it was a little too extreme creating the idea that that is how good schools can get in Africa. I understand that they were trying to advertise their works of charity but the image portrayed of Africa was generalized. They also have a similar video but for Ireland and I have found the same issues(only it’s a bit more humorous) https://youtu.be/0c17bhtmmds

    1. I think your idea of having feedback straight from the beneficiaries is really interesting and I would love to hear more! Do you think that this could perhaps give a more balanced view of Africa and help show the direct effects of any help given? Also, is it likely that Innocent would choose footage based on how it fits in with a western based ‘single story’ of Africa to try and sell products through pathos or would it focus on broadening people’s view of Africa? I actually think it’s a really good idea, I wish they’d done that!

    2. Ibukun, I could not agree more. I board in England but have lived in Nigeria all my life and I found this advert rather obnoxious despite the noble intentions. Basically saying that the whole success of this village relies on one white man in England. The advert wouldn’t have been as obnoxious if the person who bought the drink was a young girl — a more sympathetic character.

      Furthermore, different perspectives of “Africa” are so important because in 2018, people are still asking me whether I live in a mud hut.

      Adverts like this only emphasize the “starving village” example of Africa, rather than the booming and lively cities in Africa.

      The next step for companies like this I believe, is to employ people from these places and ask for help on how to be more sensitive.

    3. I have the same viewpoint as Ibukun (and many agreeing posts) on this advertisement and that it conveys the idea that richer people in the UK (and other places alike) are able to ‘help’ people by doing so little. I think in a way also, that the snippets in which the viewer met the people who live in Africa, could come across as potentially mocking through its intention of being comedic.

    4. Yes, I completely agree with you. This comedic approach is damaging and undermined the seriousness of the conditions that some people do have to live in. It reinforces stereotypes and these hinder the development of countries where the conditions are actually like those in the video. It is warped the way that Innocent makes it seem that if you buy this smoothie, a child can go to school etc. . Saying this, it is good that Innocent give some of there profits to charitable causes (even if they feel that they have to reenforce that stereotype to exaggerate the message).

  2. Ibukun, I was just interested to hear a bit more detail about how you would inform people of the charitable giving of a company in an advert in a different way, and how you might offer space for the voice of the beneficiaries whilst avoiding stereotyping?

  3. I was hoping that there could be a statement introducing the beneficiary as per where ‘exactly’ they are from. The beneficiaries would then give an honest feedback on how the charity has helped them. Although this is an idea I got from a multichoice advertisement for a charity as well https://youtu.be/2dBpF8VBe2c . I thought the video provided more than one view of Africa while advertising their services at the same time.

  4. This advert makes Africa seem reliant on the West while simultaneously grouping the continent of Africa as one ‘poor’ place rather than an intricate and hugely varied continent. When I was younger and before I began challenging my preconceptions and took a closer look at my flawed reasoning, this is too how I viewed Africa and maybe it was due to the indirect impacts of videos like these that I see all the time on the TV (including urgent appeal adverts). However, maybe instead of focussing on this one video and condemning innocent smoothies, we should take a look at the capitalist process involved and the way people go about getting to the end goal rather than learning during the process of getting there. This advert would probably be/was successful because it made people feel better about themselves if they bought an innocent smoothie therefore the goal of earning money for the company was successful. It appeals to our ‘culture of aid’ in the west. People want to give and they feel that it’s their duty. In fact, Damisa Moyo points out in her book ‘Dead Aid’ that ‘aid has become a cultural commodity. Millions march for it. Governments are judged by it.’ Again this is a capitalist and thus political approach, and i am unsure whether this is right or wrong. If innocent took a more educative approach and focussed on this incorrect portrayal of Africa then we would have learned more and it would have challenged our perspectives but they might not have earned the same amount of money from it and not been able to give the same amount to charity.

    Moreover, development is portrayed to be much more simple in this video than it is and again focusses more on the end point than the learning process and how we got there – which, in my view is more important.

    Whether or not I think it should change depends on whether or not earning more money for the company, and thus more money for the charity innocent smoothies support, is more important than changing the way people think… two very different goals. I wonder if there is a way of better combining these two goals that would have worked to benefit both aims in a way that also appeals to the ‘everyman’ watching the advert.

    1. Agree with your ideas on stereotype. While the producer might just be talking about the ‘average’ or ‘common’ scenarios, views tend to be mislead by different productions into thinking that is the only possibility.

  5. In this advert, Uganda, and more broadly, the continent of Africa is implied to be generally lacking commodities, such as cows and that this is the only barrier to everyone’s children becoming engineers. I know very little information that is specific to Uganda. I don’t think I have ever seen any images, films or news stories of or about Uganda, not even part of some charity appeal. The only thing that this advert has in its favour is that Uganda looks beautiful even as frankly horrible attitudes towards the people in Uganda are revealed.

    When companies like banks or supermarkets advertise their charitable deeds in the UK on UK television they tend to use upbeat shots of children eating, community football teams winning, families having cups of tea. They shy away from saying that the football victory is because of the charitable intervention because that takes away the autonomy of their consumer base, which would obviously be unpopular. Unfortunately this dignity is not generally extended to people in other countries because they aren’t the target of the advert.

    Obviously, I think this double standard should change, no country is more deserving of being shown in a fair light than another.

    I always get annoyed when a percentage of the profits of a company going to charity is supposed to be a selling point – I would rather buy something that I want and donate to a charity where I have seen first hand the responsible way in which it acts, rather than trusting a cheesy, mocked up advert as to the good a charity does.

    1. I get annoyed too but i know that, unfortunately, a lot of my friends wouldn’t think twice on whether the charity is effective or not…

      I was wondering if you therefore think that more wealthy countries can actually ever meaningfully help improve the living standards of those living in less well off countries? Or whether our somewhat selfish attitude toward charity (in that it makes us feel good) is in the way of it being meaningful?

      1. Having seen the work of Reading Spots in Ghana I definitely think that the voluntary sections of wealthier countries can form amazing, productive relationships with other countries. As I’m sure this year’s course will go on to explore, many of the “less developed” countries are being exploited by big companies to various extents, perhaps even these same companies then donate a percentage of their profits to charity. As such I am more concerned by the cynicism of the companies exploiting goodwill towards other countries.

    2. I agree with the majority of what you have said. However, I would just ask you to clarify what you are referring to when you describe the attitudes of the Ugandan people portrayed in the advert as ‘horrible’?

      1. I apologise if you have red my post as saying that.
        My post actually said “Uganda looks beautiful even as frankly horrible attitudes towards the people in Uganda are revealed.”

    3. I like your comment about how you would like to see what happens to what you are donating and I also feel that it is imperative that there is a clear connection between the donation and the recipients. I agree it can be easy to see this advert and assume only good comes out of buying a smoothie but your comment about the donation acting responsibly has made me feel that it is so crucial to be aware of the potential negatives of blind donations.

    4. I like how you elaborate on how organisations autonomy and I agree with the majority of your views. I would definitely like to hear more about the view of a country being in the shadow of another. It is really interesting that the ad presents a certain superiority of the consumers of the product in the western countries etc. over the African population and I really think this shadow analogy that you talked about demeans their lives. It would be good to hear a further view of the inaccuracy of how the country is developing, do you think the advert was ideological and unrealistic in how the society developed in Uganda?
      Also I believe that the smoothie donating to charity is a selling point. It is more if you have a choice between two drinks say, the fact that this product gives to charity might sway you to buy it, therefore boosting sales. However, the company didn’t only do this to sell more, instead of it being “cheesy” I think it is taking steps towards generosity.

  6. This advert acts opposite to many charities appeal adverts. Instead of making the watcher guilty, which many adverts do, leading to an increased dehumanisation of many people in poverty who many adverts suggest ‘need saving’ it focuses on the so called ‘Chain of good’. Which has negatives and positives although it seems to avoid the dehumanisation of people in poverty it idealises the effect a small act can do. This leads to people who themselves are away from poverty convincing themselves all they need to do to get rid of their guilty conscience is buy an innocent smoothie, when really much more is necessary to solve this problem and help the development of Africa.

    1. Indeed, Charities have been trying to use guilt as means to persuade the people to donate for…quite some time now. I have seen this type of advert countless times over the years and they always display images and clips of starving, weak children to make the audience feel sympathy for them. While the possibility that they really are suffering cannot be denied and is most likely the case, they are often portrayed as “helpless”, there’s nothing they can do, and as you mentioned “needs to be saved”. This dehumanization makes the audience ignore that they are still normal humans just like you and me. That’s the problem. They are not “helpless”, they don’t have enough resource to sustain themselves and they “need help”. While having its flaws, i believe that the smoothie advert allows the audience to understand that they need our help. We are not exactly saving them, we are aiding them in achieving what they need. This difference in tone can be very impactful and is a difference between dehumanizing a person, and restoring dignity in the people we aid.

      But you have a point in saying that this advert idealises the effect of the smoothie, and this advert has its fair share of stereotyping as well. To solve a problem, we must solve it from its roots. However i believe by changing the tone of charitable acts, we are making an effort to improve the current situation.

    2. Your idea about the fact that this advert doesn’t guilt trip people is interesting as I was immediately propelled into finding the negatives in it. I suppose the fact that it doesn’t dehumanise those living in poverty is something that should be praised, however the fact that it fundamentally exaggerates the role of the typical Westen person in helping those people is part of the problem- we need to be shown the ‘real’ Africa that is, without hoping to sound too apathetic, worth saving. We have become desensitised to the suffering of the people who live in horrific conditions, and although it is awful, we are so used to it that it no longer has an effect on us. We need to be shown adverts that portray young people in education, culture, and the development efforts already taking place in order to feel like we have a reason to put money into the continent. You’re right in saying that there is so much more that needs to be done than just buying a smoothie, and I believe that if the way we perceive Africa begins to change, people will be more willing to help with the real efforts to improve things.

    3. Hi Joe, you make an interesting point about the way marketing and its intended impact on an audience. Along with your line of reasoning about the ‘chain of good’ I would say Innocent Smoothies are using this advertising to sell the product with the experience or feeling of being a ‘do-gooder’. As the video ends with everyone thanking Mark it conveys that the product sells altruism at the convenience of buying a smoothie. As you mention, it takes a lot more than buying a drink to solve a family’s economic grievances. The video over simplifies both economic problems in Ghana(and wider Africa), it does not show the cultural and economic diversity of Ghana either which generalises the lives of Ghanaians and other Africans. To some extent, I would call this campaign a PR exercise as it is a tokenistic gesture because I agree with you that buying Innocent Smoothie’s products alone will not be of some great indirect benefit to others.

  7. This advert is definitely guilty of making the entirety of Uganda, with the implications of Africa as a whole, into a “single story” as Adichie expresses. It takes a typical stereotype of an African lifestyle and really wrings it out with the “good school” and cow. What this advert does not do is establish any sense of strength that people in Africa have, and in this video it seems to be portraying Mark as a hero to the people, although of course it is brilliant that 10% goes to charity, it should portray the characters as equal, not one as the selfless giver and the other in need of help to achieve anything with their life as this is simply not the case.
    I would have much preferred to see an advert which establishes a relationship of equals, rather than one which plays into misguided stereotypes people already have too much of.

    1. I agree with what you’ve said, as even on the map they’ve shown the entire continent of Africa with two images: a camel and a hut, suggesting that the whole of Africa is a rural desert in need of saving by westerners, when this is really not the case

  8. I think the main reason people judge and perceive people from developing countries through ‘single stories’ is certainly through the influence of the media. Particularly in the UK, headlines in the most well-known tabloids often shout about the expulsion of immigrants because of how many jobs they are “stealing”. This leads to politicians becoming aggressive towards immigrants, and eventually much of the listening population becomes aggressive against foreigners in general. The remainder of the population may become very pitiful and sympathetic of these people’s lives, and consequence in a perception similar to that of Chimamanda’s towards Fide.

    This perception of people can often result in judgement on the politics of the country that one might come from, and therefore western countries may begin to see the countries’ economies and the people who live amongst them as inferior, leading to a massive bias and warped perception on an entire area of the world.

  9. It’s interesting to me the way my perspective can change depending upon the context in which I read or watch something. If I were to have watched that advert on TV one night, I would probably have considered it to be a perfectly reasonable ad, however, in the context of the course and Adichie’s Ted Talk on a ‘single story’, I have come to a conclusion that I would have likely not come to in another situation. The presentation of the White Western Man in the ad as a hero who can help the poor, impoverished people in Africa (note that Africa is presented as a whole entity as opposed to a continent teeming with different cultures) is a shocking display of the typical Western view of Africa as the Inconvenient Poor Place we have a duty to help. The stereotypical presentation of an African village with a poor family in need to help to provide their son with an education is one that we see constantly, and as per Adichie’s talk, is a ‘single story’ we have grown complacent with seeing. Although the message the advert is trying to convey is that we can help those less fortunate than us by buying Innocent smoothies, the tone is positively patronising, presenting Mark as a single white man indulging in material items as per the norm, who has used his privilege to provide the Western standard of living to an impoverished family. The ad, therefore, is not a shocking deviation of the norm in terms of the presentation of Africa as a continent (shown by the fact that this advert would not have shocked and angered me under normal circumstances), but the typical Westen tactic used by companies and brands to convince the ordinary person that they can be a hero and help those who need it. Furthermore, this is a shockingly simplified and dumbed down presentation of development. The ad suggests that one person (or one Mark) could change the world by buying enough Innocent Smoothies, and from the ad, we would not be mistaken to believe this. After all, if one drink can provide a family with so much, it really wouldn’t take so much to fix a load more families would it? Although I am not an expert on the development powers needed and already present in Africa, my knowledge and experience of the continent suggest that it may take something significantly more nuanced and complicated in order to ‘solve the problem of Africa’. No, I don’t have any world-changing ideas in terms of development, but I do know that it is the Western portrayal of the individuals’ role in helping the poor that is tainting the efforts of real people with real causes trying to make a real difference. Although efforts of TV and adverts and charity in this way are significant, I only wish that I would be able to be bombarded in a similar way about the efforts being made at a political level from Western, and importantly, African powers to try and improve the situation. It’s adverts such as this one that fuels the Western perspective that the lazy African governments are too corrupt to help themselves and require the help of the Heroic UK, USA, and Europe. Change the story we’re presented with! Show people the real Africa: the culture, the food, the people, the cities, and maybe we’ll be shocked into realising that Africa is not the impoverished continent we are fooled into believing it is, but a diverse continent worthy of help and worthy of the chance to develop.

  10. I think it is really interesting that Africa is portrayed as a singular entity, reliant solely on the white man’s kind generosity and actions. This advertisement seems to tie in with the preconceived ideas that western cultures are taught about Africa and views it through the “white saviour” paradigm. The way that this ad has been made makes the true problem seem oversimplified, without any hint of the deeper underlying issues that are faced by some communities in Africa, where the work of NGOs (while laudable) are not always the solution or showing Africa as a diverse continent, full of different cultures and peoples, choosing instead to show it as impoverished and helpless. Moreover, it does not address, and may in fact add to, the long term effects of colonialism. Is it not true that much of the labour that went into that ad, whether directly (such as sourcing fruits, making bottles etc) or indirectly (from the shoes worn by the actor to parts of the camera used to film) were made by corporations with huge presence in countries in Africa, oftentimes underpaying or exploiting workers and taking huge amounts of resources away from the local people and contributing to poverty in some areas, which leads to the idea that people have that all of Africa is struggling? And is it not true that this neocolonialism is based in the systematic oppression of certain groups in the past? Until we can be assured that none of the effects our actions contribute to neo-colonialism, or at least call out and condemn the actions of these corporations, how can we truly focus our energy on helping – yes MEDCs have a duty to help others and contribute but how can they truly help when they are the ones making the problem worse? Overall it seems this ad was misjudged- it should have focused on ending the effects of neo-colonialism and of trying to break the idea of the “white saviour”; until we view everyone equally, appreciate the beauty of other cultures, break the mold to challenge the ‘single story’ and are able to treat all people with humanity any effects had by any country will no be able to fully help those in need, in Africa or elsewhere.

  11. Well l think this has two sides to it firstly, l mean it’s quite sad to assume that pennies got from this product will supposedly change the entire life of some African child, in the sense that he/she will go to a ‘good’ school,sure the money will go a long way but that is just exaggerated. l won’t even talk about the whole cow, and in the end the ‘poor’ Africans are grateful to Tom who unconsciously bought a drink without knowing this whole chain of goodness was coming about.l mean if you are to donate money, good and well but making the end party look so need and poor is not acceptable.Basically , a person who has never been to Africa suddenly has a picture of a good school in Africa being just a building in the middle of nowhere, some poor infrastructure and all, it’s really sad, it leaves a lot to think of Where they really doing this for charity or for them to sell the product.

    On the other end, l feel in as much as the whole Africa isn’t like that but believe it or not we have places where that kind of school is a good school, that money from charity actually goes the long way it has been advertised to go.So maybe helping to sell the product could only come about with appealing to people’s emotions, l mean if a poor looking boy comes up to you asking for money you definitely feel sad and have the need to help him where’s if you potray yourself as rich and all noone really will worry about helping you

    1. Nice point of view,

      I guess this resonated with you that we should all be of help to people we know they have less. One should stop feeling big and avoid people from the foreign land to help, in which they will advertise their contributions and make more money.

      It is time we be our own helpers.

      I like the point you raised.

  12. I don’t view this advert to be particularly ground-breaking and progressive in the way it presents the wide-ranging plights of African people, please don’t misinterpret this to mean that Africa should be seen as an extremely impoverished nation with the population suffering for similar reasons. Africa is too vast and diverse to be analysed as one place or to say the people are all war-stricken and starving, which we know they are not. My point being that this advert is typical of its kind, even with the ‘chain of good’ aspect that attempts to inspire compassion in its consumer.

    I think that Innocent smoothies are simply attempting to communicate a watered-down version of how their money is making a difference. They focus on one family to demonstrate that what we may regard as basic necessities can help in small ways. The extent to which this helps is exaggerated for advertising purposes which is a little disheartening but unsurprising of the marketing world. Overall, the advertisement shouldn’t be viewed with the aim of saving Africa and solving social issues for good but rather with the idea that Innocent smoothies, and everyone who considers themselves to be morally upright and truly global citizens, should do what they can to help others.

    If I haven’t explained myself coherently enough, please ask me to elaborate…

  13. From the interpretation of the advert, Africa is portrayed as a continent that is less developed by lacking so many things ranges from economical to infrastructure. It was very obvious that Africa is painted impoverished by lack of good homes, school, good foods, good roads and largely dependent on agriculture for survival and need financial aids.

    Truly Africa continent is a developing continent because the basic things that measured any developed continent is still far behind but she have all what it need to be a greater place without the help of the foreigners. What has their help took us to? We never been taught how to catch fish but rather giving us. I think Africa is a place that has all what she need to becoming great as against sole dependent on foreigner as painted by the advert.

    About Africa development? A whole lot of things should be changed. The mindset of the leaders should be change from fixed to dynamic, as well as Africa citizen.

    All developed country search for their solution within their means. Africa should stop herself from seeking solution fro the outside world(we can be partner) but not to sect them to provide a solutions to problems that is caused by cultural diversification, ethnicity, religion and politics.

    It is time we look inward for solution within.

    It is only the Africans that understand her culture, that know its ethnic groups and religion, we are the only one responsible for our problems.

    This is my view.

    1. Hi Afeez, really interesting to read your post which is powerfully written. I wonder whether you think all organisations or individuals giving support of any form to African countries is an inherently bad thing, or whether there are some forms of outside help which might be beneficial? If so, what would such a form of support look like to you? If not, what advice can you give Africa’s leaders and citizens for moving from the ‘fixed’ position you mentioned, to being more ‘dynamic’?

      1. I believed it is time for Africa leader to start looking inward to create a long lasting solution to her immediate problems via:

        1. Investing in the education system ( all developed continents have immensely invested in their education). Education is a base for so many developments ranging from infrastructure to socioeconomic.

        2. Transparency in policy making: Africa has been known for her corruption which has gone too deep into our economy. I believe it is time Africa allow transparency in all her policies. The moment people could trust their system, subconsciously people tends to move from their shell of creativities and ideas towards solving immediate problems.

        3. Lastly, I so much believe in security. It is high time Africa focus on security issues. All the citizen need to know that both their lives and property are saves. This will definitely give them sense of belonging and control.

        Moreover, there are organizations that are good for Africa continent. UNICEF, UNESCO amongst others are organizations that have good cause for Africa. There visions are so good for development of the continent. It is also nonprofit organization.

        Conclusively, if Africa could solve problems using indigenous ideas, it makes adaptability easy and practicable.

        It is time we invest in our own.

  14. For how long would the African continent be portrayed as the’poorest’ in the world? I think that the video was very biased; I believe that there are other charity organisations in the UK and some other part of the world however, the video was only focused on Uganda in Africa!
    Again,the concept of gender inequality was portrayed in the video as the family only supported their son’s education and not their daughters…on the whole I think that the advertisement was just to promote the marketing of the product and not the charitable benefits.

    1. Hi Cedella, great to read your comment. I wonder whether you think companies should have any have legal or moral obligations to represent countries and people in a certain way, or whether we should just accept that Innocent is a for-profit company, and may well only include a charity link in order to increase that profit?

      1. Yes! I do agree that all companies should have a form of legal and moral obligation to check their use of certain contents( in this case Africa ) when marketing their products. However, I cannot abruptly conclude that the innocent smoothie is a’for-profit company’ in the sense that they did not provide enough information as to whether they truly contribute to a charity organisation in Uganda or not.
        My point is that even if they really donate 10% of their profit to charity in Uganda, was that the best way to have portrayed it to its consumers?….If no, then can’t it be inferred that the advert was just a business strategy that is focused on profits?

  15. A whole continent cannot be represented by such a ridicule in an advert. After all, it is not the entire Africa that the charity is being given to but rather to a specific beneficiary. A single cow certainly cannot provide all the needs of a family let alone that of Africa. Why are the big tourist sites and magnificent buildings in Africa not shown on the map but rather a hut. The advert portrays Africans as being “poor” and always dependent on the West.

  16. After watching this video, I could only understand the exaggeration of buying the product. The money will help but to the extent of buying a cow, getting a bicycle and getting a good school is not explainable. One can talk of donating to the needy but to Africans, specifically Uganda is questionable. The needy can be found all around the world not only in Africa. Buying the product could also help the needy in their country so coming all the way to Uganda to help a family considered to be in need, makes it seem as if Africans can only live based on the help gotten from the UK. I feel the video was just to get many people to buy the product and not centered on helping people.
    My argument here is that Africa is a well developing country and not dependent on other countries for help.

    1. Hi Fiona, great to read your comment. I’m interested to know whether you think companies such as this should focus on supporting people in their local community, or whether you think linking their company to communities in Africa is acceptable if they had done it in a different way?

  17. The video at first sight seems to have nothing wrong with it. It starts on an interesting note making reference to the general believe that everything is connected and then questions how well the viewer really understands this. A viewer who does not pay attention to details is unconsciously carried away by the thrill of the moment. Is that the reality on the ground?
    The video focused more on how 10% of the profit moves straight to Uganda. What actually happens to the remaining 90% ? . Is the benefit actually going to some charity work in Uganda?
    The manner in which the ‘heroic deed’ of Mark is portrayed is completely unrealistic. Mark actually made no intentional attempt to help anyone. He was just trying to quench his thirst. But the image painted here is that on he buying the smoothie completely transforming the life of an entire community. This is baseless, biased and unrealistic.

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m really invested in your interesting comment: ‘Mark actually made no intentional attempt to help anyone. He was just trying to quench his thirst. But the image painted here is that on he buying the smoothie completely transforming the life of an entire community.’
      Some people might argue that it is a good thing to encourage people to have a sense of agency – that they are able to make a positive change through their decisions. I wonder how you think the advert could be better created to create this sense of agency in Mark, but without the power hierarchy being created?

  18. After seeing this video, one can understand that Africa receives help from others. Looking carefully, the country being helped is Uganda and no where else. The problem is not that Uganda is helped but nowhere else in Africa is receiving help, not even people around them. Looking carefully, the Africans are seen thanking a certain”Mark” but when doing charity I do not think that you have any intention of being praised in future. Every one owning a company want to sell what it produces but I do not think that bringing a whole continent forward and portraying them as a whole to be needy is the best way to attract the public.

  19. The video is employing an advertisement strategy to increase consumption and in turn increase the income that goes to the target beneficiaries. As much they may mean good, the question that runs through my mind is whether or not this representation is valid. This question is important because it is based on this representation of the target beneficiaries that the audience is being wooed.

    Watching the video makes me reflect on Robert Cialdini’s ‘The Psychology of Persuasion’, where he charges audiences/consumers to be critical of social evidence presented in advertisements so they can ‘devictimise’ themselves from social inaccuracies presented as social proof. Consumers will be convinced based on the evidence provided and then they’ll become victims, believing the image portrayed. Beyond this video, I think advertising companies use skewed arguments in a bid to persuade consumers.

    The video oversimplifies the need of the beneficiaries [they need a cow] and ignores the root causes of inequalities present in African communities. In doing this, the community is presented as one that ‘lacks’ and gives little room for understanding gaps that exist and progress that has been made etc., in order that one can appreciate a more accurate story. The ad isn’t interested in what story it tells about the beneficiary, but what story will maximise their gains. In effect, communities in Uganda will be viewed from a point of the lack, without an answer to why they don’t have a cow, what they have, among other questions. Notwithstanding I like the fact that the ad was not stressing on how deprived the community is, but how people’s lives will be positively affected.

    I see development portrayed linearly, thus a one sided giver and receiver affair chain. The ad for instance mentions that 10/100 of the profit go to charity. It was conspicuously silent on where the 90/100 of the profit goes. The audience is made to ignore the fact that by buying the drink the producers are getting 90% of the profit. And they may be doing better than other producers because the charity aspect sells them well. Beyond material gains they may enjoy some goodwill and recognition that others may not gain.

    Development is partnership with mutual benefits that may be tangible and intangible. I think the video gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we perceive those that we help.

    1. Stephen, if you were Innocent and had decided to give 10% of your profits to a social cause (tied to your company marketing), how would you do this differently?

    2. Stephen, I agree that the advert was too simplistic and I believe it would be much more helpful to a community to find the roots of problems caused within their societies rather than to just provide them with a cow.

  20. This advert portrays the country of Uganda and, subsequently, the continent of Africa as poor and dependant on the western world. This image is damaging and contributes to the premise behind the ‘Danger of a Single Story’; portraying African countries without independence nor self-sufficiency is the norm in wealthy countries and no prominent counter view is provided. The use of this idea in an ad as well, would not render the average consumer to consider the depth of the message portrayed nor question Africa’s presentation. The White Saviour Complex is prevalent in this but not explicit which means that many would not recognise nor question the message or morals behind it either.

    Development is depicted to be dependent on other countries, therefore, people in Uganda (more generally, Africa) are seen to be unable to provide for themselves without the help of first world countries. This can be seen as way for the companies to feed the ego of the average consumer rather than raise awareness of their project in the potentially intended way.

    I think the average person will believe what they are fed by the media, as there is no glaring reason not to. However, in a situation like this, analysing everyday messages and the meaning/intended takeaway behind them can open your eyes to the inaccuracy and stereotypical portrayal of an entire continent. This didn’t match my personal view as I have like to investigate things like this but, as I previously stated, I think the average person would believe that this is what the continent of Africa was like.

    I personally think that ‘helping’ shouldn’t be seen as a wealthy country giving money to a poorer country for supplies. I think the development of a country is about the development of the people’s skills and, therefore, their futures. Also, they will know a lot more about their culture than we do, so I think that if charities and companies really wanted to make a difference, they should talk to the population of the country, not a boardroom of executives in suits 4,000 miles away.
    And as far as the portrayal of ‘development’ in English and other media goes, I believe that they should stop saying that the regular person is the reason for a country’s development and report accurately on its achievements/contributions.

  21. I found this article was indeed very relevant to the innocent ad in terms of the idea of a single story. However, I also feel that it could have portrayed Uganda in a worse light. I understand that the advert does include many stereotypes about Uganda and Africa as whole, such as what is considered a “good school”, and that they are reliant upon the West, and this can be harmful, especially if these depictions of the country are the only ones that someone is exposed to. Yet I still think that countries such as Uganda and LEDCs as a whole are frequently portrayed in a much more negative light: rarely do adverts for charities, for example, show how donating to charity positively impacts people, but rather shows them in dark, depressing situations in order to evoke sympathy, and even guilt, within the audience for these people.
    This innocent advert does not do this, but shows how buying a smoothie contributes positively in someone’s life, so even if it is ultimately just to sell a product, it does give a different perspective of Uganda. I understand that this could just be another strategy, where innocent show the “chain of good” in order to make the potential customer feel good about their purchase and without guilt. But I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that I appreciate the fact that they had a different approach to portraying this country.
    Still, Innocent could do a better job of showing different types of people and also touch on different aspects of life in different countries such as music, and it would, of course, help if there were more ways of learning about culture, especially in Africa, in the media, other than through adverts for charities. On the subject of getting different perspectives about other places and people around the world, I would love to see more documentaries on television about the culture of different countries including Uganda, and it would be great if schools had books on the curriculum written by authors from these countries as well.

    1. Hi Eliza, I thought your comment was really interesting and I agree with you on many of the points you make! I think innocent show Uganda in a more positive light than many other adverts I have seen. I also think it would be great to see documentaries from different perspectives – possibly including people who live their- on what it is like living there and their experiences. I would find that fascinating!

  22. This advert to me suggests too strongly that people in Africa are dependent on charitable donations from the West and that the fending for itself has proved an issue, leading Innocent to become a saviour. It also suggests that development in countries such as Uganda is not possible without direct donations of money when contribution from large Western corporations is not always the answer and development is portrayed as something which is reliant on aid whereas there are progressions made within countries which have no relation to outsider countries. This does not match my perception of Africa as I feel that in many ways people in countries such as Uganda can be more resourceful than in other places around the world and although charities can be beneficial to individuals as well as communities they are not always the be all and end all of the development of a nation. I would love to be able to find out what actually happens to the donations made from Innocent to Ugandan people and if this advert is in any way representative. I also feel that there should be input from the people who are at the receiving end of the donations from Innocent so they can give their perspective so adverts can be more balanced and give a fair representation.

  23. Since the theme of the course this week is perspectives, i think it’s only fair to look at the Innocent Smoothie Advert from different sides, not only bashing it for what it did wrong, but also appreciating what the ad did right.

    The Innocent advert had it’s fair share of over-generalization. People live in small makeshift dirt and straw huts, families are poor, the audience can understand that their lives are not easy and it can be quite harsh to get by in such conditions. While there is a possibility that this is the case in some parts of Africa, surely it’s unwise to think that this is the case for all of Africa. In recent years, the international community have been sending aid, or even working with local governments in investments projects to develop Africa and boost it’s economy. For example, China had been actively working on projects in Africa, and this has significantly boosted the development in certain part of the country. Even though some part of Africa is underdeveloped and seemingly neglected, it is no longer the case in other parts of the country. To stereotype Africa in such a way is starting to get humiliating, honestly. Therefore i believe it is a good idea for charities and companies to include information such as which part of the country are these donations going to, what they are going to use it for, and how many people this donation is going to benefit. If the audience have a clearer idea of what Africa is like and how their donations can actually help, it can educate the audience and avoid stereotypes. The audience will also be more willing to donate for the cause.

    This advert also has it’s merits however. After reading another participants’ (Joe (UK)’s) entry, i was made aware of the fact that this advert had done something rather different from other charities’ appeal for aid. Joe pointed out that despite the advert’s flaws, it had used a “chain of good” approach to explain how we can help instead of the usual guilt tripping approach found in most charity adverts. Personally i think this is a very good point, and to add my own opinion on it, i think it gives a certain sense of dignity back to the people in Africa. Let me explain.

    Normal charity adverts often display the suffering of the people in Africa. Images and clips of starving children are often displayed to make the audience feel sympathy for them and feel guilty for not donating. While i’m not denying the fact that these images we see are most likely true, i think it is a bad idea. This is what i would call giving the advert a “helpless” tone. They try to convince the audience that these people are pretty much vulnerable and helpless without their donations and aid, and they need to “be saved”. Save is a very strong word in this context, and it dehumanizes the people of Africa. While we witness their suffering, we must not forget they are also humans like all of us, they are not entirely helpless and do not exactly needs saving. What they need however, is help. They function like everyone of us, but they lack the resources to get by and achieve higher aspirations. The good thing about the Innocent smoothie advert is that it lets the audience know that these people needs, not saving, but help. With our help, they can live a easier life, with our help, they can pursue higher education and careers. This “chain of good” works because it makes the audience know that we are not saving the people, we are working with the people in Africa to achieve their goals. And that is the beauty of this advert. Both Innocent smoothie and charity adverts are appealing for the people’s monetary aid, but in supporting Innocent smoothie, we feel a sense of unity with the African people we help. Because why wouldn’t we? They are human too and the advert have managed to make that clear and restore the dignity in the African people and we, the audience can view them as equals, not something lesser than us.

    Even though there are a lot of improvements to be made to the advert, and i’m sure other participants have plenty to say about this, i think we should also appreciate how a change in tone, a change in perspective, can change how we perceive the things going on around us.

  24. The biggest problem with this advert is portraying the entire continent of Africa as that single family living in a rural hut. Although I realise this was done for practical reasons by Innocent as it would be difficult to include different perspectives into one short video, it only enhances the perception people living in the UK have on Africans and their standard of living. The idea that one cow, which would be fairly insignificant, perhaps even a liability, to a family in the UK could change the lives of a family in Uganda is an unrealistic expectation and suggests that Ugandan family is less significant than a British one. Additionally, the video illustrates a “good school” in Uganda as what is essentially a small, poorly built hut. This continues to enhance the idea that all infrastructure, including schools, are much more advanced in the UK than in Africa. In reality, although there may be a higher average quality of education in the UK, there are still plenty of well established institutes in Africa which are being hidden in video, and therefore hidden from the eye of a foreigner.

    1. Hi Cerys,
      I completely agree with your opinions on the video. I do believe that even though UK are seen to be the more developed country, Africa has some amazing traits such as its landscapes. I also agree with the fact that Africa has many established institutes, and if only adverts like Innocent could show them to the Western world so people’s perception could change.

    2. I completely agree. They have totally hidden the fact that Africa has developed since how it is portrayed in the advertisement and is still developing today. If every other continent gets noticed for the development they make why can’t Africa? Even though Africa may not be as develped as a lot of counties in the world it does not mean that all families have is a hut and one man in the UK can get them a cow. It is completely rediculous.

  25. After watching both the advert and the “danger of a single story” it opened my eyes to how much perception plays a role in so much of what we do and with that, how wrong we can be on our judgements we make.
    I think whilst the advert clearing has its intentions in the right place, with giving some profits to charity, I think the way this was portrayed could have been done differently. The advert depicts Africa in a very generalised manner and is portrays Africa in the same way I have seen time and time again. The idea that ALL of Africa depends on richer countries is false, yet from the advert this seems to be the case. It also shows a whole village being dependent on this one man who is shown to feel virtuous because he bought 1 smoothie which 10% of the profits go to charity. Obviously, innocent are going to want people to buy their smoothies so they can acquire the other 90% of profits so by portraying Africa in such a way and making people think their money is going to make villages thrive and let people be able to buy a cow or for children to go to school, is a manipulating marketing technique. I
    I don’t think the video actually shows Africa in a negative light instead just dependent and fitting many stereotypes. I think it is impressive that innocent are committed to doing this charitable work and makes me more inclined to buy one of their smoothies, I am also happy to not see an appeal for aid and often many charity videos show sometimes rather distressing videos of people in Africa and whilst I am aware this is sometimes the case, it is good to see a new perspective on the TV of seemingly happy africans with a bright coloured environment and in some ways portraying Africa in a positive light.
    I have never been to Africa but would love to in the future! My original perceptions of Africa were just ones I have been constantly shown through the media, often on the news or charity events/ videos, just from these stereotypes I have seen my perceptions were, unfortunately, misinformed and the video does fit into my previous perception of Africa. However after looking at different perspectives of Africa I was able to see my mistakes and how incredibly wrong my judgements were, it has made me see just how easy it is to see things from 1 perspective and believe what you’re told, and it made me wonder how many other single stories I have believed.
    I personally think big corporate companies have a responsibility to represent different perspectives and not conform to stereotypes because if we want to tackle the issue of equality on the level of being human then it needs to happen in mass, however I don’t see it happening soon and I don’t see their being any chance of enforcing it on companies because big companies are just looking at maximising profit!
    My aunt runs a school in Kenya and I work alongside her in the penpal scheme so I often chat to my penpal and many other children at the school. These children are some of the most disadvantaged children in Kenya who often turn up to the school starving and naked, yet when talking to them it is evident that they are capable, dependent students who have large ambitions and are so interesting to talk to, they are the opposite of the stereotypes often portrayed as dependent when really they are similar to us on so many levels and when looking at Africa from this perspective it really changed my views! I found everyone’s comments fascinating and really eye opening!

    1. Rose, I really agree with some of the points you have made here having also watch ‘the danger of a single story’ and discussing it within school.

    2. I really agree with the point that these countries are portrayed as needing to depend on richer ones, such as the UK. However I do think the intentions behind Innocents advert were positive and at the end of the day, 10% of their profits are given into a good cause. Even if it is growing their company, it is still helping people!

      1. Hi Laura, thank you for your comment. Of course – I think the fact a large company like innocent is trying to make a change is highly commendable! It does make me more inclined to buy their smoothies!

  26. Being later to post I have been able to read many other people opinions on this advert. While I’m sure Innocent are only trying to help (whilst making a profit themselves) they have generalised a whole continent using people’s preconceptions to create their advert, showing people living in dirt huts etc does not help to change stereotypes viewers may have. Like some have said it does not show Africa in a negative light, but does show that they may be dependent of big businesses and charities for support. It is up to these businesses and us to try to change these preconceptions of Africa. However I do like that this advert focuses on positives and in the end maybe it is better that they give 10% to charity, even if it does mean that they make more themselves.

  27. I go to boarding school in England however I am both Swiss and Ghanaian. I have been to Ghana on many occasions and In my opinion I believe this video is an excellent example of the danger a single story poses as explained my Chimamanda Adichie. The way Africa is presented in the advert is not a fully balanced image. Africa is a major continent with many countries with different stages of development. I have seen many places in Ghana for example that can be compared to England or America. To be honest this video portrays Africa as a helpless continent which is in desperate need of people like Mark in order to develop in any way however I don’t believe this is true.

    1. Charlene, I could not agree more that this advertisement is a stereotype of a ‘weak’ and ‘helpless’ Africa which needs the intervention of other nations, which is certainly not true for the majority of the African countries (with the occasional exception just as in Europe with countries like Greece that went bankrupt in 2015).

      However, Innocent Smoothie is not going to show the side of Africa which is an upcoming global power, like Nigeria, as it does not benefit their purposes of advertisement. They want buyers to feel sympathy for those who receive the aid, encouraging sales of their products.

      So, how can they make the advert provoking but also representative? Well, I mentioned in my other post that Innocent Smoothie should perhaps show them working in partnership with farmers and communities, rather than a story of reliance on people like Mark. This would fulfil the Innocent idea that you should go out and buy a smoothie in order to help communities but would show the strong, business savvy and hard working side of the African farmers as well. This I feel would encourage a more representative view of African countries, initiating understanding and cooperation. What do you think?

      1. I agree with Charlene in that it is a highly inaccurate portrayal and representation of Africa, and that it isn’t worth it to sacrifice truth for the sake of garnering sympathy. There are certainly other ways to create an emotive and impactful add that at the same time inspires people to buy Innocent smoothies.

        I think the most problematic part of the ad stems from the power dynamic between Mark, Innocent smoothies, and the Ugandan family. It does not feel like a friend lending a hand. Instead, it feels like pity, made worse by Mark’s obliviousness to the gratitude of the Ugandan family. The donations feel like they are coming from the large corporation, rather than a single buyer, thus stripping away the last bit of heartfelt intention and dehumanizing the whole transaction.

        What do you think is the best way to create an ad that represents the Ugandan people while being emotive to inspire people to buy Innocent Smoothies for the sake of giving back to the world? Perhaps the fact that the money is going to Uganda should be made irrelevant? or perhaps Innocent Smoothies should donate to the local charities of the country from which the smoothie is being bought from- such that it is locals helping locals?

  28. This smoothie ad tackles a noble cause yet is quite abhorrent, producing, like all ad propaganda does, an unrealistic view of African society. The portrayal of the African continent is basically suggesting a poverty-stricken way of life stemming into both complete reliance on western charities and a demeaned life of Africa’s population. Laying out to viewers of all ages influencing them to see Africa in jeopardy and themselves as more superior unknowingly in order to gain funding to help them, I find this quite ironic. This coincides with the presentation of development in Africa being reliant on western charities to be made possible through organisation and economic support. Yet, the development there is shown to be extremely simple and almost effortless, with no obstacle in the way at all one thing carries on leading to an even better “good” in a “chain”. This is an extreme ideology spurring on clients to buy the product as their one purchase has a huge effect. It is in fact surreal and blatantly influencing understanding of the polar-opposite to the development situation at the moment stunted by corruption, population growth and environmental crisis etc. This perception of Africa is majorly unrealistic demeaning the true state it is in, hence why it is so abhorrent.
    As people divulge into the stereotypes there is an apparent coherence about the perception of Africa in the ad and their own perception. People in western civilisation have this permanent perception of Africa manufactured by information fed to them from charities, governments and foreign propaganda which all have similar aims: To achieve funding, so key into sympathy of the views creating this demeaning value and superiority. However, the perception of development in the ad, to my knowledge, is easily distinguishable to the current situation of development there. As stated earlier in a place stunted by corruption, population growth and environmental crisis, the development rate is miniscule and the plausibility of the development in the ad is close to 0, nearing impossible. Overall, setting an untruthful perception of development confusing viewers from what they should really perceive it to be.
    Therefore, this whole perception of Africa is hugely inaccurate but is it for the right reasons? Whether I think something should change is a case of opinion. Is raising funds to help people suffering in Africa more important that truly educating an accurate perception of Africa. In the case of an ad I believe appealing for funding is paramount for the development of Africa. I believe the alteration of perception can come later or perhaps through another resource/influencer.

  29. This advert stereotypes Uganda, as well as the whole continent of Africa, portraying them as a continent that is need of fundings from western countries in order to develop. It puts Africa in a negative light, making, in this case, Britain, dominant over Mark and his family. It shows that people have labeled these countries as being poor and helpless, which has impacted on our day to day lives. People don’t think twice before considering the ways in which they portray Africa due to the image that has been painted in our heads over time, which can be reflected from the advert itself. We tend to put people into boxes without really thinking about how the world has changed and how these ‘boxes’ have changed, it is a habit that we need to get rid of in order to view every human being on this planet as equals. We need to look at situations from a new perspective and not look at it from a narrow-minded way.

    Development is depicted as being very simplistic in this advert. It only shows one aspect of development in Africa, and again is being quite stereotypical. It over-exaggerates the reliance Africa have on Western countries. In a way, it portrays Africa as a continent that desperately needs the benefits from western countries, as if they couldn’t develop without them, which is 100% not true. In my opinion, it would be better if the advert illustrated African people as people equal to the rest of the world, and not individuals that depend on others in order to survive and have a good quality of life. I think this is an incorrect interpretation of development in Africa.

    From statistics, Africa will be one of the fastest developing continents in the world. That means our role of perspective also need to change with it, as development is ever-changing and dynamic therefore our views need to alter with these changes, otherwise, we would just be stuck in one period of time, not being able to move on from stereotypical ideas. We need to be able to make our views accurate according to how the world has progressed and advanced.

  30. There are quite a few posts before me so won’t go into why this video is stereotypical as I will just repeat previous sentiments. If someone has already said this I apologise but I think we should look at this in another way.

    Innocent Smoothie is just looking at how they aid Africa (or in the case of the Irish ad, Peru). There is no mention of whether the fruits sourced for the product are helping create sustainable employment and income for an area. Innocent Smoothie are just looking at giving aid, of which is probably a short term hand out. The issue with short term aid is that it will not maintain the bicycle or provide a new cow when the old one dies of age or illness. What Innocent Smoothie should try and advertise is whether they are working with farmers in communities, like the one shown in the video, to create long term employment which will continue to benefit the people allowing them to go onto, for instance, set up their own company. This idea is the core belief of organisations like FairTrade.

    The idea that people are ‘helpless’ and are in need of aid does not create a good impression of the country receiving the aid and the country giving the aid. By painting African countries as 3rd world with no real infrastructure or development without the help of other nations, means people stay ignorant of the vibrancy and strength these countries have. But on the flip side, by portraying countries like the UK as ‘the saviour of the African nations’ creates a negative image of arrogance and naivety which does not encourage respect and cooperation between nations.

    Overall, I believe Innocent Smoothie should promote their charitable work but I would certainly be more driven to buying their products if they showed how they work WITH people not just giving out aid which will only last, at the most, for one life time.

  31. In my opinion this advert, although probably made with the best of intentions, does show how the perception of Africa in the Western World does not reflect reality. The fact that Uganda, but also the whole of the continent, is portrayed as extremely poor and not self-sufficient, requiring oversea aid in order to support its own population, is indicative of how our ideas on their situation is straight up biased.

    In my personal experience, since I was little I have always been exposed with images of children starving and people living in inhuman conditions, while at the same time being told that they needed my help in order to improve their situation, as if I represented their only chance of achieving a better life. It took me a lot of time and effort to change my mentality on the matter, and I’m still working on it to this day.

    The reality, I think, is that in African countries many different realities coexist, as in all other nations. There is poverty, and it might be more present than in other parts of the world, but there are also people living what could be called a “normal” life and even some who have higher living standards than the majority of the population in developed countries. This step back to see the bigger picture, and therefore to realise that LECDs are in reality much more similar to MEDCs than what most people actually think, is in my opinion one of the key steps in redefining our idea of Africa as a whole.

    Moreover, also the idea of development shown in the video displays a level of bias and stereotype, especially when looking at what is considered good infrastructure (for example the school). This does show a complete lack of understanding of the real level and quality of the facilities available in those countries, and establishes, in the mind of the first world citizen, a sense of superiority. This idea of being “better off” in every aspect of life is what really creates the social divide that we see today and does not allow a fair dialogue between the parts, which would benefit much more both parts, in the sense that they could both learn from one another, rather than having a one-way relationship.

    In conclusion, although I do believe that the advert was made with the best intentions, it does contribute to the biased idea of Africa that is now widely spread across so called “First World Countries”, increasing even more the social divide being felt between LEDCs and MEDCs. In order to truly improve everyone’s situation, I believe, a more equal and fair dialogue is required, in order for both parts to learn from one another and achieve a true form of development.

  32. I think that although the Innocent smoothie ad does stereotype Africa, the makers behind it only did it because they thought this would be the best way to make the audience understand what they were saying. Since many UK people are familiar with Africa being stereotyped this way, they can understand more easily the way the buyers’ money is being used. If Innocent had tried to make it more accurate, for example by showing how buyers’ money had helped someone who didn’t fit the stereotype, the audience might not have understood as well since it wouldn’t have fit in with what they already “knew” about Africa.

    1. While I can understand the point you’re making, don’t you think that big corporations (such as Innocent) which have large purchasing power in the media need to take responsibility for the way they perpetuate harmful stereotypes, and instead use the power they have to dismantle them? I am aware this is quite idealistic in that the vast majority of companies are solely focused on making profit, but I do think it is long past time they need to take moral responsibility as well. As for the audience not understanding it as well if they didn’t use outdated stereotypes; from my understanding, the point of the ad is to show that buying an Innocent smoothie is good for the world as well as for you, and this message can be achieved by showing any positive impact the money from the smoothie achieves, not just a highly stereotyped one.

  33. Innocent smoothie tryed to appeal to their buyers sense of compassion in other to sell their product which in turn paints a single story of the African continent. This video stereotypes the African continent as being a place of poverty without hope which is totally false. Development here is portrayed as a thing of the whites, showing that its because of Mark that the family could live, feed, trade and even send their children to school. Africa is a continent that has progressed far beyond the idea painted in the video, we have good cities, hospitals, roads, schools etc, people are also living in poverty just like in other nations and continents. Development is a two way angle, it’s not fully dependent on a particular person, nation or thing. For development to fully occur there must be a two way help not as the one painted in the ad. This advert have a negative effect on the Ugandan people because it has painted a single and stereotyped story about them in a negative way.
    Change is constant, the way the world view countries in africa should change, we are not a continent devoured by poverty no we are not. We are a strong, purposeful and developing continent and we will surely achieve our aims because we work hard towards them.

    1. I agree Obasanjo, that Uganda is developing very well and this is a false, untrue image that innocent is using.
      However, do you not think that this message still inspires donation, even if slightly insensitive?
      and would you have the advert removed if possible?

      1. Thanks Oliver for the comment.
        The advert inspires donation as it appeals to the emotions of it’s customers who feel by buying a bottle of innocent smoothie are helping Africa thereby increasing their patronage of the product which increases the donations. I will like the advert to show the true Africa not the one portrayed in it..

    2. I think you make a great point Obasanjo. The portrayal of Uganda as dependent on Western aid is unsettling, and puts the wrong idea in people’s minds. What do you think innocent should have done instead? What do you think companies can do to change the stereotypes surrounding Africa?

      1. Thank you Jonah for your comment.

        Innocent smoothie should instead showed the impacts it’s aids have had on the people of Uganda. Companies can stop painting Africa in a negative way by not using the single story of poverty, this stereotypes nation’s of Africa.

    3. Hi Obasanjo, I totally agree with your point that development is a two-way route and that we all share the responsibility of making the world a better place. I would say that in an integrated and connected world we have today, acceptance and a levelled playground is of much more value than just money and financial aids.

  34. The aspect of this advert that I find the most difficult is how it states how unaware we are of where money goes when we see ‘10% for Charity’. What does this mean? I see it so often and instantly recognise it as a good thing without understanding where it is actually being spent. Can you still feel ‘good’ about giving to charity if you don’t really have the intention of even giving to charity? On the other hand, I think that it is important that companies give back to the global economy whilst being mindful of what they take away. I find it ironic that we see so much charity fundraising whilst we also support major companies that could be seen are responsible for the poverty that we wish to reduce. This advertisement seems to endorse the idea of the simplicity of the issues and it causes, presenting it in a very one dimensional way. I guess that can be seen as the staple of many adverts, but I think with an advert such as this, It is important to point out its flaws as it highlights so many of the stereotypical (and incorrect) conceptions that exist around giving to charity.

  35. From a marketing view I understand innocent smoothies’ intentions to create a “Chain of good” and make the consumer feel positively about their purchase. However, I do believe this is an example of a “single story” Adichie is explaining in her speech. The main problem with this, is that it predominately focuses on one family’s situation which in return aids to people’s stereotypical perspective of Africa. This advert gives a perception of Uganda being inferior and dependent on MEDC funds in order to attend a good school or make a living. I think the media has a huge effect on how our opinions are shaped about different countries especially in news headlines. When reading the newspaper you often see immigrants and refugees portrayed in a negative manner even though there are two sides to every story. The way in which we perceive Africa should be based on the people who have experience for example people who live there. This would help us fully understand the characteristics of Africa and help us in making our own opinion without stereotyped perceptions. In spite of the generalisation in this advert, I do like the fact that Innocent haven’t targeted the buyers guilt in order to make a profit. Innocent is also up-front about how much genuinely goes to charity unlike other charities that could be using a big sum of your money for advertisement and only some for helping people.

    However, this does not escape the fact that this advert willingly aids to people’s bad perception of Africa. If innocent used more of an equal approach like portraying people all over Africa I believe it could have helped their profit intake and also start to change people’s perception.

    1. I liked the way you evaluated both the good and the bad about the campaign Zara. It’s easy to focus on just the negatives so to mention some of the things that the company was doing that was good gave the advert a bittersweet perspective that I hadn’t thought of. If you had the choice, how would you have had the company fix their message as to not give the impression of foreign dependance?

  36. I agree with lots of the comments here already. It seems that this advert portrays this story too simply. It implies that people from Africa solely rely on the charitable donations of people from western countries. For example, how does Innocent choose how to spend their money? Many NGOs and charities have recently been under fire for their choice of spending of donations. This has contributed to a number of allegations of misconduct, notably from a recent report on the NGO Oxfam. I think it is particularly difficult for NGOs to be able to choose how this money raised and donated can be spent.
    The African continent is portrayed as a general need for donations, rather than focusing on many excellent accomplishments and further improvement which can be aided. Many people believe that “Africa” has nothing, and without western aid, nothing happens- which is completely wrong. Of course, donations and aid can make considerable differences, but the people of Africa are not incapable.
    Development has become increasingly important over the last 20 years or so. Some IGOs and other associations have unfortunately excluded many eligible African states as members. For example in the G20, only South Africa is a permanent member as an African state. As economic development is a fundamental principle, you would think that including other developing states, both in terms of principle and geographical location would allow cross-continent development and globalisation to become easier?
    This Innocent advert has simplified the idea of donations to a considerable extent. Improvements would include having specific examples, initiatives and programmes where consumers could specifically identify how their money is helping. Regular updates etc would also be a good way of communicating with the public.
    Ultimately though, investment and initiatives would allow more people to be reached, and although the intentions were right of this company, the way they delivered the information was probably not the best idea.

  37. I believe this advert overexaggerates the amount of good actions Mark influenced just from one smoothie purchase. Also, he is seen at the top of the chain, feeding down to the less fortunate as he enjoys a smoothie, which I believe to be insensitive and obnoxious. Although the advert is slightly degrading, hope innocent smoothies capitalise from people who will see this advert, and believe that the 17p from their smoothie will have such a chain reaction.
    As these 10% of funds collect they will ultimately do SOME good.

    1. I completely agree with the way in which you have highlighted the problematic nature of the chain itself and how detrimentally degrading the image created by this chain is. There is definitely an unsettling idea being conveyed that Mark is somehow superior and a sort of ‘saviour’ despite him not trying to be nor actually being one. I love the positive spin you have put on this also in that you do see the potential good this advert could insight and create while simultaneously capitalising on its product. I do think that it is a genuinely good thing that brands do have an element of social justice and responsibility to their products and their marketing. At the same time, however, I do find the way they have represented this cause to be misleading, one dimensional, and even insulting. Overall, I do think the way in which they choose to advocate for this cause in order to make it align with their own marketing needs to be adapted so that it does not communicate such a fundamentally misinformed and potentially damaging message that perpetuates common stereotypes and misconceptions.

  38. I am aware that I am re-iterating many previous posts, but I find this advert interesting as it highlights a view of development in Africa.
    The advert suggests that there is a dependence on help from Western countries, which is a relatively common perception. It encourages a feeling of self-righteousness that potentially lead to these perceptions continuing.
    It has been mentioned before the opinions will only continue if they are not challenged.
    This kind of advert is what people are relatively commonplace and so instead of finding better ways of advertising many businesses simply follow the stereotypes which have become ingrained in Western society. If big businesses such as Innocent Smoothies went against the portrayal of Western dependence, then it would help break this perception.
    Adverts, such as this one, are following socially accepted views, and in doing so clearly show deep rooted issues with perceptions of development.

    1. I completely agree Lucy, and moreover I do believe that, in order to break free of the misconceptions and stereotypes that surround Africa, a more open and fair dialogue between the parts is required. I am firmly convinced that the only way for this to end is for the LEDCs-MEDCs relationship to be one from which both parts can learn from one another, rather than being just a one-way one.

  39. I am absolutely baffled by this advert. Marketing can be such a damaging and dangerous aspect of our lives, particularly as adverts are made with the intention of getting people to buy into a product or an idea and often this is done through means of exploitation. This exploitation can often come in the form of targeting insecurity, making people think they would be better off with a certain product, or even as seen in the case of this advert, marketing at the potential expense of a whole truth. This advert is trying to play on the idea that people can feel like they have played their part in bettering the global community by buying and drinking an innocent smoothie. This both exploits and perpetuates the stereotypical view of the African continent as an under-developed and impoverished place, dependent on the money of some random man in the Western world; in order to profit from a drink.

    I believe they should have better educated people if they were going to benefit through selling this product from a social justice point of view as this advert conveys a gross simplification of African communities, upholding a generalisation of poverty and reliance. A generalisation that people in the West often mistakenly apply to Africa on the whole.

    I do not however have any qualms about the cause this advert intended to support (albeit potentially not in a completely representative way), in that 10% of these profits are donated to the Send a Cow charity. Now, unlike what was suggested in this video, Send a Cow is an incredible charity where ‘together, communities build a vision of a better future’, people are trained in farming and business and farming system development is undertaken as well as social issues such as gender inequality also being addressed. This is a convincingly worthwhile cause that does initiate progressive change which is centred around the people within the community acquiring certain skills, therefore proving that money to fund this cause is only a small aspect of it. This cause is not reliant on random people in the Western world but is driven by the people within the local community.

    The issue, I believe, instead lies in the problematic portrayal of development in Africa, presenting the country of Uganda as predominantly backwards and basic, feeding the popular misconception that this, therefore, means Africa is a continent where all African countries are poor and dependent on aid, that Africa is lacking in technology and that poverty is the defining factor of life in Africa. It is so important to instead debunk these myths that translate well into the idea of a definite power imbalance, creating the sense that these Ugandan people are somehow indebted to this oblivious man named Mark in the UK. Mark in this video, is credited and praised for ‘doing good’, yet he is completely unaware of this ‘good’, it was not even his intention to do ‘good’, it was his intention to buy a smoothie. This, therefore, shows the lack of an educative aspect to this video and more of a worrying implication that Mark is being hailed as a ‘hero’, which is completely unjust as he is unwittingly and undeservedly being given this acclaim.

    While I do believe it is our duty as part of an international community to always help others and provide a voice if we have the privilege of having a voice for those who are voiceless and powerless wherever we can. However, it is so important to retain a sense that we are impacting on people who are fully capable themselves of being independent, we may merely be in a position where we are able to positively affect another human being. There should be no sense of superiority or sense of one human being indebted to or owing something to another human being as a result of this, particularly when the person is not even aware of how they are helping.

    In saying all this, I do love the idea communicated by this advert though in terms of everyone and everything being connected, as this social responsibility is a crucial element of a harmonious, supportive and accepting global society.

    1. Hi Amy! Thank you for your interesting post. I wonder, given your knowledge of the wider work and aims of the ‘Send a Cow’ charity (e.g. Send a Cow is an incredible charity where ‘together, communities build a vision of a better future’, people are trained in farming and business and farming system development is undertaken as well as social issues such as gender inequality also being addressed) how could the makers of the campaign better represent the wider elements of this organisation?

      1. I am so sorry, I have only just discovered this reply! I do think that rather than simply showing the cow in the video with the implication that this was the sole reason for the ensuing chain of events, they should have used the voiceover to further explain that the money also goes to the development of modernised farming systems, business development, education of gender equality, the teaching of farming and business skills and that there is an emphasis on this being the led by the shared community vision of being able to build a better life for themselves. The word ‘themselves’ being crucial in this campaign so as not to depict the people in the African community as incapable by any means and being indebted to a person in the UK, but rather that this funding allowed them the possibility to drive this change themselves. These changes are not catalysed merely by the presence of a cow as this simplistic video suggests. They would definitely have had time in this advert to quickly run through these different aspects of the charity in the voiceover! They could even have had subtitles along the bottom clarifying that this is a charity where changes are led by the community itself, with it being them who have to acquire and learn the new skills taught and made possible by the fundraising of this charity. To be completely honest, I think the advert should have been redone entirely as the depiction of the charity does not do the charity the justice it deserves! With the portrayal of the Africans in the advert being highly condescending, promoting a complete power imbalance. It did not need to present Mark as a saviour in this video, all it needed to do was show the possibility and opportunity that this funding would create in terms of the progression for some African communities working with the charity.

  40. Data online and statistics from Unicef’s website (of 2011) highlight that 86% of the children of the correct age to attend primary school, enroll and access the education available. Then, come secondary school, this percentage of net attendance ratio drops to 20%. Now although these are fairly old pieces of data, perhaps we can learn from these numbers as they focus our attention to the true flaws in the Innocent Smoothie advert.

    The advert – don’t get me wrong – has certain features and ideas that portray Africa in a light away from its stereotypical ‘helpless’, ‘very underdeveloped’ and ‘uneducated’ image, where I am guilty of being naïve at a young age, and seeing Africa as a whole continent, in this light. However, I think the real problem of this advert is by focusing on how a monetary donation can change the life of a family, the less you see of the bigger picture: the country itself. While 10% of the money used to pay for the product goes to families back in Uganda in order to buy a cow (which be perhaps more of a burden on the family’s income), the real issue isn’t that all the people in Uganda cannot afford education, the country as a whole lacks the facilities and resources to educate their whole population in the first place – be it by being unable to build schools in rural areas due to a lack of government funding, insufficient number of teachers etc. That being said, I believe that the advert and the firm should not be printing, ‘10% of the proceeds go to charity’, but to make it clear where the money is going to – perhaps even investing into the construction of schools in rural areas or the training of teachers. It is similar to intermediate technology – by investing money into what the country needs rather than appearing to just ‘send the proceeds to Uganda’, not only will consumers know where their money is going, but how exactly the money will benefit the country and its people.

    This advert already depicts a clear development division between the Western societies and Africa (as a whole) due to the background used and the clothing worn from the actors. By including scenes where the people in Uganda thank ‘Mark’, places emphasis on the supposed reliance Uganda has on the people who buy the product (ie. Westerners which is whom the advert is targeted at). This reliance also makes way for a division between the people of Africa and the Western countries when actually, by allowing consumers to see the change, this could create a sense of involvement and unity between Africa and the Western societies, perhaps making consumers more inclined to buy the product – if that was the firm’s main aim of the advert. As mentioned in previous comments, the advert does dehumanise the people in Africa as though their whole life is dependent on the ‘privileged’ in Western culture who are sold the product as they can afford it, whereas seemingly African countries cannot. It shows that the people in Uganda are somewhat beneath the consumers, in a way, entirely reliant on feeding and living off the consumer’s choice between an Innocent smoothie or a store-made fruit juice.

    Thus, both parties can benefit if the advert was altered. By changing the stereotypical African background with huts and people reliant on cows (as the advert comes across) to more realistic and raw clips as to how the money will benefit the people of Uganda’s lives in the future (perhaps a progression/before & after clip?), we can eliminate Adichie’s ‘Single Story’ idea which would help educate the viewers, who have perhaps prejudice views on Africa due to the media, as well as build a stronger connection and link between the societies so we can be seen as one of the same rather than two different species co-existing in the same world.

  41. I remember seeing Chimamanda Adichie’s talk on the Danger of a Single Story, and then studying the text briefly in my English class, and I remember both times it really stuck with me. I think that her points about the danger of stereotypes are especially important in today’s society.

    I think that the innocent advertisement doesn’t do as much good as it claims to. In fact, I think that it has the opposite effect- it promotes the stereotype that all African nations are underdeveloped, and poor. On their map/graphic of the African continent, they didn’t show any cities, or anything even close to that. Instead, there were only a few mud huts, wild animals, and trees- furthering the stereotype that all of Africa is underdeveloped, poor, and barren.

    I’ve never had the chance to go to any African countries, but that idea definitely doesn’t match with my perceptions of the continent. There’s a lot of cultural depth to African countries, and innocent has completely neglected to show that side of things. It felt to me like they’d almost dehumanised an entire country (taking Uganda as an example here), removing what makes the place interesting, its cultural heritage, the developed parts, and just saying “Hey, we need you to come and save this country. So buy our mediocre smoothies, so that you too can give us 90% of the money, and give 10% of it to a very small number of people so you feel better about yourself!”

    Sorry, got a bit vent-y there. But nonetheless, it doesn’t sit right with me that the company is basically claiming that drinking one smoothie will send a child to school, university, and get them a high-paying, high-skill job. The notion that drinking one thing will magically fix an entire family’s life, and help to develop even the most remote parts of a country, doesn’t feel right. It’s the most passive way of donating to a cause, and the fact that their typical consumer, Mark, is so unaware of it makes the gesture feel even less personal. I feel like if people really wanted to make a difference, they could donate directly to the charity instead (cutting out the middle man of the smoothie company, and giving more money directly to the organisation). In terms of the advertising, I think that innocent should make it more clear where the money goes, how much of it people receive, what the actual benefits are, and maybe do something more than just buying a cow. Perhaps they should invest in improving education facilities as well, or something similar.

    Either way, whilst it’s nice that the company donates some of their profits to charity, I think the advertisement doesn’t quite have the right message, and that the charity should either donate more of their profits to charity, or do more with the donations they receive.

    1. I totally agree with what you said about the need for change in the advert, including more transparency on where the money goes as well as dispelling the notion that buying Innocent smoothies is everything that we can and need to do to help. It can certainly be very tempting to feel complacent about what we’re doing, and also ignorant about what we don’t know about a country’s history, by blindly accepting what comes up in a feel-good advert like Innocent’s.

      I just wanted to follow up on what you said about how the advert does not do as much good as it claims to. If you consider the people who are otherwise not motivated to donate to charity that were influenced to buy a smoothie (thus indirectly contributing to development), would you not agree that the advert does at least some good, and that at the end of the day the advert does not necessarily reflect how money is being spent? Or would you consider this advert to be a net harm to development interests?

    2. I really agree with your comment. The advert should state clearly what percentage of profits is being used for charitable causes and what is being used for. They also need to change the stereotypical image of Africa with they are portraying and show the vast depth of culture as well because otherwise viewers pose a risk to falling into the trap of a single story, which even though in some cases help charities raise more donations, is not representative of Africa in today’s era. This could be especially harmful to young children watching this advert who are very easily influenced by things they see and hear, therefore adverts like this need to approach such topics with sensitivity in order to not influence a further generation brainwashed with narrow minded perceptions.

    3. I completely agree Jonah, with your point about the advert portraying the way in which the smoothie and its small donations can immediately tackle the development of a country. I think that this presents a narrow minded view, which is not only unrealistic, but ignores the progress and development which has already taken place in so many African nations already. It also assumes that the only way for this development to happen is through other countries’ input, which unfairly doesn’t reflect the hard work and progress of the country’s own people who have already paved the way for development. I also think that the way in which the ‘chain of good’ process of development comes across is quite patronising, as it takes a stereotypical story, and portrays it as being the norm for the whole population, which only perpetuates the ‘dangers of a single story’ that Chimamanda Adichie warns about. Furthermore, whilst it is clear that Innocent have good intentions for really making a difference to others through charitable donations, I think that this can be done in a way that does not make people in LEDCs feel potentially inferior, or less in control of their own development, than those in MEDCs. I think that this view needs to be changed through better communication between people of all nations – for example, by ensuring that not every photo online of ‘typical’ African people are portrayed as living in underdeveloped places with insufficent standards of living, whilst ignoring the millions of people who are thriving and not necessarily living in conditions of total suffering.

  42. I believe Uganda is portrayed as a positive country, eager to grow and develop with a strong sense of family values. However, several people are arguing how it may just be a ‘too happy’ and unrealistic image of how life in these communities are, as we are only shown a stereotypical village with a small family.

    I do think that this advert, however, is not stereotypical, nor a brutal marketing technique either. If it was, we would be shown negative, heartwrenching and tragic photos of the struggles some people have to live in every single day throughout the African continent. This is a strategic and successful form of raising awareness which I believe should be in place as it shows the unaware public what is happening that we don’t know about. However, the advert is a change, in the sense that it connotes a healthy and happy family, taking advantage of the resources around them with a hopeful and bright future.

    However I disagree with the fact that development is almost suggested as an easy thing to achieve. Some places in Uganda would need a lot more than just a cow to change a families living style and one fo them eventually ending up as an engineer! In addition, I believe this does not encapsulate Uganda as a whole nation. There will be many different socio-economic statuses throughout the country, for example, realistically, many Ugandan civilians will not have a good school within a cycles distance. There are several flaws within the story told by Innocent, but there always would be- as it is impossible to include every living style across the whole nation.

    1. Hi Laura, I agree that it is a move away from the ‘negative, heartwrenching and tragic photos’ but I wonder whether some Africans (as you see above) might find the lack of power and agency shown in this advert as equally disturbing to them?

    2. Hi Laura! I do agree that it is great that the Innocent advert chooses to have a happier outlook on the idea of charity for Uganda. However, as a large MNC with millions of consumers, do you think that Innocent should have been a bit more careful with the scripting of the advert? The advert seems to focus on the idea of the consumer from a more developed country being basically a saviour of Uganda just to appeal to its demographic. This, to me, seems to be incredibly ignorant to the idea of charity and tries to exploit it instead and reinforce the idea of a massive social hierarchy in the world.

  43. The video above seems to present a fresh and optimistic view of Africa, but oversimplifies development and our role (as citizens / consumers in the West) in it, which can negatively impact our perception (and support) for future development initiatives.

    It describes Africa as a continent of opportunity, where a little bit of help goes a long way to help a rural family prosper and climb up the social ladder. Admittedly this is quite a generalisation (for reasons people have discussed extensively above), but it certainly is a fresh description to many viewers accustomed to seeing scenes of poverty and suffering children. In this, it strikes a balance between painting them as worthy recipients of aid without coming across as trying to guilt-trip the audience.

    Where it succeeds in finding a middle ground in portraying the African continent, it significantly generalises development and how we come into it. Development is described as starting from an initial sum of money from the west purchasing some basic necessities (i.e. a cow in this instance), which starts of a “chain of good” that culminates in success for all people involved. While this matches a commonly-accepted model of development, the characterisation takes certain things for granted, such as assuming that giving a person a bike will allow them to “study hard” at a “good school” and “become an engineer”, when in reality one’s level of attainment in education depends on more things than simply transport (such as conditions at home and the affordability of university). The description of Mark as a “hero” may also make consumers in the UK feel good, but they also gloss over our responsibility to ensure that the money is spent correctly. Such simplistic descriptions of development run the risk of misinforming consumers.

    The advert itself was created with good intentions, but the message it is sending places Innocent in a position of responsibility to educate, which necessitates a few changes to be made. The positive image and simplification of development arguably appeal to consumers, who Innocent needs to appeal to in order to increase its sales to support its charitable goals – how the money is spent is a question for their social responsibility department, not necessarily marketing. However, in the long run there is a risk that people may mistake effective development for throwing money at a problem (as the advert seems to advertise with its lack of a coherent plan for spending) which may lead them to support future projects of such a nature that are misguided at best, and exploitative at worst. To rectify this, Innocent should give an indication of how complex development can be, and how their efforts in promoting development is responsible and comprehensive. By putting out an advertisement on such a complex topic, the firm has a responsibility to ensure that its consumers are well-informed and not misled.

    In short, I believe the advert was created with the best of intentions, and I certainly think it can be effective in encouraging people who would otherwise not be inclined to donate to alter their spending behaviour somewhat to do some good. However, the generalisations and biases in this video can lead to mistaken support for poorly-organised initiatives in the future.

    1. Really interesting comment, Sam, thank you. I wonder, when you say that the advert was ‘created with the best of intentions’, what evidence you have taken into account to form this judgement? Why do you think a company led by intelligent leaders chose this approach which pupils seem to be able to quickly identify as ill-informed? What guidelines (if any) do you think should inform the advertising standards agency’s rules in censoring similar campaigns?

      1. Thanks for this Ms Davison! I based this on the intention of this advert (to increase donations to serve the purpose of development), but I admit I gave them the benefit of the doubt, especially given the obvious negative consequences that such a simplistic portrayal can have. In response to your question about how we quickly identified the problems in this advert, I think it’s worth bearing in mind its intended audience – the average viewer recreationally watching television is likely to only absorb the main elements of the ad (i.e. the message that buying Innocent serves development), and will likely come to a different conclusion than us as (relatively socially aware) pupils critically examining it. A more complex, faithful representation of the reality of the situation could dilute the message, and diminish the impact of the ad, and as I mentioned above, the manner in which the money is spent does not necessarily need to be reflected in their advertising.

        As for guidelines, it can be difficult to judge what is considered “accurate and appropriate” or not given the subjectivity involved, though we can certainly set some guidelines. The purpose of an advertising standards agency is to safeguard consumers’ interests, so they should focus on ensuring that customers are accurately informed about where the money is going – a possible way of doing so would be to provide an option for views to “find out more” through a link to a website, where they could go into more detail about how the money is being spent, and also the situation on the ground in the communities they are serving. This would serve to educate those who are genuinely interested in finding out more, while keeping the original message in the ad simple and succinct.

  44. I think that the commercial perpetuates a lot of common stereotypes about Uganda, and it presents it as somewhere very rural and underdeveloped, while the reality is of course that it is very diverse with 16.9% of its population living in urban areas in 2017. The ad is very eurocentric to the UK, and it portrays us as people who can just purchase a drink and make this giant difference to the lives of people in Uganda, who are generalized as people in need of ‘charity.’ In my opinion, it completely erases the need for a partnership and instead suggests that we know exactly what they need based on our own perceptions, as well as oversimplifying development.
    The ad doesn’t match my own perception of Africa at all, because although I have never been there, from hearing stories and watching some documentaries, I have the impression that it is an incredibly diverse continent, both in terms of geography and people, and has both very developed and underdeveloped areas, just like other continents. My impression of what ‘development’ should mean is closely working with the most disadvantaged people to give them the help they want (essentially bottom-up development), instead of thinking that we (Europeans) know best and forcing our own view of how they should develop onto them.
    If I could change the commercial, I’d show many more people buying innocent drinks to emphasize how just one person buying a drink in the UK isn’t going to make a massive difference since only 10% of profit goes to charity. I would also be more careful about the use of the word ‘charity’ because to me that implies that it is not a partnership at all, but rather advantaged people helping the ‘needy’. I would therefore then show volunteers discussing what changes the Ugandan family wants to see, and then using that money to fund it.

    1. I agree with you Sarah that the word ‘charity’ shouldn’t be used in this case. Instead, they should be making it clear that Uganda is a developing nation that needs to partner up with countries rather than receiving charity.

      Furthermore, this add is very Eurocentric and only highlights the general perception of Africa rather than the truth. I have been to Nairobi in Kenya and have seen first hand how it is a developed city and how the country, in general, is developed rather than a country full of poor farmers like many people think of it as over here.

  45. After watching ‘Innocent’ smoothies advertisement, it was difficult for me to not feel conflicted about the messages it conveys. Despite its intentions to create feelings of goodness, the advertisement very quickly transcends into a mocking and stereotypical view of African life. The part which made me feel the most uncomfortable was when we actually saw the ‘difference’ that Mark was making in Africa, and how mocking it was. The places they were in conveyed the typical stereotype that we see normally through the media, in the UK, e.g. the mud huts and the classroom in the ‘good school’ being barren and devoid of any educational stimulus. Another thing in the video that upset me, was the sense of arrogance and lack of knowledge displayed by both the narrator and Mark. The idea that Mark had no idea that he had ‘helped’ was heavily pursued in the advert. This should not be the message we are conveying, as if, as a richer nation, we are actively choosing to help those living in poorer places, then we should be aware of not just the fact that we are helping, but how we could further our aid. I do however, believe that the marketing team behind this advert did have good intentions, especially as these profits are actually going to charity and will help some people in some shape or form. I just think that the advert should have been less stereotypical and broached the subject in a way that seems less like we are praising the richer nations and actually conveying the benefit this could be having, in a more sensitive manner.

    1. Mia, I completely agree, whilst this advert may have good intentions, the way they go about it is mocking and shows Africa in a very stereotypical way. It shows that Innocent smoothie is trying to help by giving some of their profits to charity, but I agree with you, it is very mocking in the way that they explain that Mark does not actually know that he has helped, yet he is still able to do so as he is better off. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the advert as, in a way, whilst they have good intentions, this advert could also have an underlying hidden reason for being published, as it will increase the company’s sales and in turn get them more money. However, don’t get me wrong, I agree that it does still have good intentions that are just carried out in a possibly poor way (ps sorry for the long reply).

  46. I think think this advert based itself on very simple and unjustifiable logic. It actually make me feel quite sceptical and uncomfortable on how much I can actually do if I happen to buy a drink from them.
    Africa seems to be a place that lacks resources and produces relatively primary goods. I wouldn’t say this differs much from my perception given I had never been to Africa, but I definitely do not believe that changes could possible be made so easily.
    But if I am asked how I think about this advert as a tool of marketing…I think it might actually have kepy fact under large statistics, and considering the time and nature of adverts I will consider its creation of stereotypes as a side effect of using big data. It is necessary and efficient at times. So the improvement I will suggest is to be less confident on the huge improvement one drink can bring but focus more on the direct possibilities (so not the selling of grapes and schools afterwards) and present more facts. (30p probably won’t buy a cow?)

  47. In my opinion, I feel that the African continent (more specifically Uganda) is portrayed in the advertisement as an inferior continent which is reliant on other countries to help them. This is obviously not true. Instead of focussing on Uganda as a specific country and its cultural or historical value, Innocent stereotypes Uganda as an inferior idea just to appeal to its demographic. By this warped image, the advert subtly conditions the audience to think that if they buy an Innocent product, they automatically become a “national hero”. This is unacceptable for a large firm to advertise as it is 1) marketing the idea that Innocent is a morally “good” brand for donating to charity and 2) they are drawing the attention of charity away from Uganda itself and instead, is trying to boost the watcher’s ego.

    Sure, using the story of Janet and Otai could have been an attempt to prevent the “single story” dilemma that was discussed by Adichie, but was this effective? The advert showed a vague idea of a village in Uganda and didn’t delve into Janet and Otai’s story and still remained superficial.

    Development was portrayed as a goal that could only be achieved through the help of Innocent juice consumers. This is extremely misrepresented as not every issue can be solved by some other country throwing money at it. Sure, raising funds to buy a cow could be a good deed but it isn’t the most effective way to solve the issues Uganda faces right now. Uganda currently holds one of the largest refugee camps in the world for South Sudanese refugees. However, the current corrupt state of its government with radical, criminal gangs operating cities hinders any progression for the country. Instead of Innocent donating money directly to the people in Uganda, shouldn’t Innocent try to raise awareness and money for its refugee crisis or its country’s security to help benefit the people better and create an actual “chain of good”?

    Overall, I feel that it is great that larger firms are trying to raise awareness for other countries and increasing charity work. However, Innocent’s advert gives an awful stereotype of the country and the continent by portraying it as a country where its people need a cow to solve all their problems. It is also disgusting that they use their charity work as a marketing technique and for its products instead of trying to benefit humanity in other countries.

  48. After watching the advert I am conflicted (like many people who have commented) about how this advert portrays Africa and development. Even though the advert depicts a rural community emerging out of poverty and explores the positive change in Africa, it uses the generalised western image of Africa which is not true for all areas in the continent. Within the advert development is portrayed using humorous techniques, such as simplified ideas like a cow providing milk, in order to portray the idea of help and development simply and easily to all age groups so they can understand. However this may be controversial because it could be perceived that it over simplifies development, because development requires a multitude of factors (not just a cow/funding for example even though its is beneficial) working simultaneously, and by portraying development in Africa through humorous ideas it can be seen as condescending and patronising, however development is a very important issue which should not be taken lightly. This therefore raises the question comical aspects should be employed to explore a topic which requires sensitivity and seriousness because peoples lives and wellbeing’s are at stake when they are experiencing poverty. The idea of the west helping “weak” Africa is also brought across because it is shown as if Africa is in a “helpless” state and that the “superior” west needs to “save the day” (a simplistic storyline often employed in comics or childlike stories) in order to initiate the development. This fuels the idea of a “single story” and portrays a generalised, stereotypical image of Africa. This needs to be and images which escapes western perception because it is not a realistic image. An improvement could be that through subtle techniques that the ideas that countries are uniting and strengthening together (not just one helping the other) can convey Africa in a more positive manner and also bring forward the idea of interdependence/connectivity. However I do agree with the idea that development is created through heath (milk), education (schooling) and income (jobs such as trading in the market). Therefore the advert demonstrates well-rounded development and fulfils the criteria of the Human Development Index (HDI)

    1. I absolutely agree with you. The advert was like a “single story” and did not start with a “secondly” (with the family and not the man). It is true that development can be bought about by financial increase but it requires more maintenance and support given to the family than what the advert suggests.

    2. Furthermore the idea of reliance should be refrained from, because though it may boost donations by raising the consumer’s ego, is also has the ability to influence a vulnerable age group with its single story. Even though the man Mark depicted in this advert is of a mature age, this advert also appeal to its young child demographic. The advert needs to depict the vast array of culture existing in Africa, otherwise the vulnerable young demographic pose a risk to being influenced/brainwashed into believing this narrow minded, single story perception of Africa which is not representative of the situation in this current era

  49. It is obvious that the advert does not try to refrain from African stereotypes. It presents Uganda focusing on the lack of economic development and its logic in development is simple.

    For example, even though the scene is set in a rural village, it is referred to as “In Uganda” thus presenting the situation as typical of the whole of Uganda.

    Furthermore, development is portrayed to be a result of new commodities as the chain of good is started by a livestock and the family dramatically changes their lifestyle as a direct result.

    However, to truly make a difference with aid, consistency and consideration are fundamental. In the advert, development is taken on the Western perspective, most of the charity received are based on our values. The family develops to have more of what we deem is necessary through the want for crops and money are universal, education is good in our sense but not always in their culture when first introduced (this is strictly an example). The development is too idealistic and does not consider other possible factors (e.g a livestock epidemic)

    On the other hand, it is understandable for the company to utilise typically western stereotypes as most of its consumers are in the west.

    1. I completely agree that the advert is perhaps limited by its consumer market and must therefore cater the message towards what the Western market can understand and essentially “accept”.
      How do you suggest companies balance the issue of being showing the nation and its value as it truly is with selling their product to their targeted consumer market?

      1. Thanks so much for replying!

        I think that for a company to use charity and social causes to persuade targeted customers, it needs to contain more truth. The advert’s message is clear, comedic and concise, which does help in terms of making more inclined to buy the product, but if we think more about its logic and portrayal of its work (it does not show the full picture), the single-story quickly breaks down and the opposite effect is produced- we don’t really buy the message anymore. Unlike Fairtrade trademarks with its reputation slow built upon evidence of change the Innocent smoothie advert relies on the exaggeration of social stereotypes and the social pressure to be charitable.

        There is no need to make development seem like charity for pity. It is long-term cooperation and care that makes advancements. We fully understand that idea as we know that we do not change a homeless person’s life by giving them spare change but by offering them a good job that allows them to self-sustain. Therefore, it is very unfair to assume otherwise for Africans.

  50. Firstly the overall impression that this advertisement gives off is that Uganda (and Africa as a whole) is inferior to other more economically developed developed countries. Additionally it actually implies that they are also reliant on them. It shows that apparently the blind act of one man can save a whole family! In the advert it portrays the UK and Uganda as complete opposites, clearly showing that the UK is superior by quickly comparing the different environments in which the people from the two countries live in. The clips chosen of the UK make it clear that it is an advanced country by showing the complex design of the clock in the middle of the town which no one particularly cares about or appreciates and the busy road full of cars behind it. Another shot used shows off the wide variety of drinks that are easily accessible to us. Then the advertisement changes to Uganda, only showing two people with nothing but the clothes they are wearing and the small hit behind them. Although in parts of Africa this representation of poverty may be true it can also be true for many people living in the UK. Furthermore the company does not bother to show the development of Africa that is happening today or the clever and inventive ways they live their lives. Instead they only show the way some of the poorest people live which some viewers would generalise with the whole of Africa and use this as their perception from then onwards. The fact that by buying the product the consumer would believe they would be helping the country is a form of exploitation. It makes the buyer think that they have helped better the global community but will anyone really know if that 10% of the price ever went to Uganda?

    I think this form of advertising a product is despicable as it spreads the misconception of Africa even further whilst manipulating the consumers. When I was younger the way Africa is portrayed in this advert was also the views I used to have due to watching adverts like this and seeing charities that show Africa in this way. I do not want this false presentation of Africa shown on advertisements and other platforms to influence young people and uneducated people just for the selfish benefit of a large chain company which already has all of the money it needs (and much more) and could definently afford to send much more than just 10% of the total cost to Uganda. These types of companies are just greedy and thrive off of manipulating people that believe they benefiting people’s lives. However this also leads to the question that is giving money to charity a selfish act? Do they just want to make themselves feel better by knowing they have done something good?

    1. I my opinion this is something that we can’t exactly escape in our society. It’s almost a given that large companies will try their best to exploit what they can in order to profit. However, it is because of this that I cannot fully agree with your point. Yes, it is a wide miscalculation of the African stereotype, and yes, there are more aspects to lives than a cow and clothing. However, for what the companies can commit to presenting to the public without too much detail this is an approximate median bar for it. If companies insert too much detail, they run the risk of losing their profits or as they are now, social brutalisation. It is because of this companies tend to step lightly in the vague realms of fact and stereotyping to have the public swallow sweeter medicine.

      However, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand where you are coming from, and I’m not trying to say your point is invalid. Your opinion is yours to keep, and I am inclined to mine.

  51. I found the Innocent smoothie advert to be truly disappointing. It portrays the classic example of the African continent in an inferior and negative light. It conveys a warped image of its demographic and patronises African people. The way the advert belittles the entire Ugandan “journey” is beyond insulting. It’s tone is condescending and extremely insensitive. It then proceeds to portray the “white male” as the superhero in the narrative, whom persons of colour cannot survive without, thereby boosting a consumer’s ego for spending a couple pounds on a drink. For a portion of the money spent on a drink you buy to go to charity is one thing, however to advertise that to perhaps make yourself feel better and show yourself off, only allows for the demoralization of the difficult circumstances and struggles people of a more humble background face daily. The Eurocentricity of the storyline in the video shows Africa to be helpless and in need of white foreigners, their “superiors” for aid. This stereotypical storyline further fuels the idea of a “single story” and portrays a generalised image of Africa. Africa should be portrayed in a hopeful light; one of unity and interdependance between our nations. Instead of stereotyping Africa, we should try a different approach to bring about awareness, strengthening its image instead.

  52. I believe this advert gives off the idea that Uganda is reliant on overseas charity to help fund the country (however, this idea can be seen for stereotypical adverts like this about other countries in Africa). It gives the impression that because Uganda is not as economically developed as other countries in the world, that the only way it can survive as a nation is for us to give them aid.

    The idea that the money they receive to buy a cow will set up their lives is also a bit over the top. Of course, this cow may influence a ‘chain of good’ and will benefit the family economically but it will not do so at a scale that the advert shows. It should be stressed that although this is money is useful, it is not all the family need. They will also need other forms of aid (or more financial aid).

    The cow bringing the family an ‘abundance’ of wealth is also not a great way to display the development in the country. It makes it seem as though Uganda is a nation of nomads who only trade rather than partake in other forms of commerce and have jobs in other professional sectors that exist (even their portrayal of an engineer isn’t flattering to Uganda).

    Although this portrayal of Africa is similar to what many people think of, I see Africa as a more developed continent than this. The advert could stress that Uganda is completely like this by giving an example of helping an urban family for instance. I don’t believe that these companies should be adding to the idea that Africa is a ‘backwards and undeveloped nation’. Conversely, they should be trying to show how Africa is a fastly developing nation and that by people helping to give money to Africa, it will help the country develop even more.

  53. this advert leaves a serious impression that Uganda, and the whole of Africa, is reliant on the West. It truly is toeing the line of racism to represent the entirety of the continent as underdeveloped, and although some African countries are less developed, it would not be fair to assume that an entire continent is less than our Western selves.

  54. I, along with many others, believe that this advert is is quite aesthetically pleasing, by using vibrant colours and many pictures and animations, which makes it interesting for the viewer and enjoyable to watch. However, if you pay close attention you can notice the many mistakes that are present in this advert.
    The first mistake of the advert is that it portrays African villages, such as the Ugandan village used in the video, as completely dependant on the western community buying the innocent smoothies every morning. This is very wrong, as the villages have many other forms of income.
    Secondly, the advert portrays all of the African villages to be living in poverty and in rural villages such as the one in the advert, however this is not the case, as there are many African cities which are striving at the moment. The common view that African countries are mostly in poverty is a stereotype that is wrongfully used all around the world, instead of a continent with loads of potential.

    1. I completely agree with your point that Africa is diverse and representing it as being only villages is damaging towards Africans. However, I personally think that that is justified as it is an advertisement and showing the entirity of African culture and development would not be possible so they will have to cherry pick those who actually need support. I do totally agree that it is wrong that they suggest that the entirety of Uganda lives like this though, they should atleast specify that it is ‘in the poorest areas’.

  55. seeing the innocent smoothie ad, I must say that I am disappointed in the way that the African continent Is portrayed. it leads people with little knowledge to believe wrong facts about a country they have never been to before, using a various number of stereotypes: the mud hut village, “good school”, the white good Samaritan…

    However Innocent foundation have used this very specific example of the African mud hut village because the nature of their foundation is to support in the primary sector and food production. they should have refrained from using these stereotypes and maybe shown real interviews with real people who have benefitted from the innocent foundation

  56. While it is great that Innocent is donating 10% of its profit to charity, the precise way that it describes Africa is quite irresponsible and slightly patronizing. I would say that it is patronizing in the terms of how poverty in Africa is described. It suggests that the lives of Africans are linear, simple and had one goal, to live a life closer to that of a Westerner. It does not show that these Africans have any attributes other than being poor, living in conditions which are similar to Mesopotamian farmers and are very thankful of kind-westerners who allow them to have a life which is not miserable.
    Although this may be the best way to draw out pity from the watchers which in turn encourages them to buy the product, it is irresponsibly creating a bad stereotype of the Africans. It is not true that every African lives in conditions like this and even if they did so, showing just one aspect of their lives, the poorness, dehumanizes Africans and makes it nearly impossible to think that an African will possibly be any relatable to a Westerner.

  57. In this advert, I thought that the African continent was portrayed as a very homely friendly place, which, considering the “The Danger of a Single Story” Ted Talk, could give some wrong impression. Whilst parts of Africa are very much wonderful, friendly places, there are also parts that are the complete polar opposites. So I think that this add is conveying a very specific single portrayal of the African continent, especially as the societies across the continent can vastly differ and they are not all small farming villages.
    I think that, in regards to this advert, development is portrayed as a fairly simple, easy process, all it involves is earning money and using this money to progress oneself and improves one’s situation. Whilst in part this is true, development requires time and very careful planning. I think that rates of development differ, and the difficulty of doing so also differs given someone’s situation and location. If someone is far away from somewhere to sell their goods, for example, it can be very hard to develop. And development on a national and continental scale, in much of the same way, has many factors playing into it. So, I think that development is portrayed to be far simpler than it actually is in this particular advert.
    I think that, in some ways, this advert matches some or my perception of Africa as a continent, but in many others, it does not. My perception of Africa is influenced by many factors, for example, hearing stories of racial gang wars within a community, or famine, poverty, and crime like murders because someone simply said something bad about the current leader. My perception has also been influenced things in the news over the years of disease outbreaks like Ebola and charity adverts of children in need. But on the other hand, there are adverts of this which show a positive side of the country and how there is work being done to improve the continent.
    I have always perceived development to be a simple idea that can be planned and thought out easily, but when the process is started it is more complicated than first assumed. And to an extent, I think that the advert shows this to me, as it simply shows a girl selling oranges and receiving money to by a bike for her brother, who can then go to school and get a job. Which they show to be an easy process, but if you look deeper into it it could be far harder than they show, the school may be miles away and it may be hard for them to get the bike in the first place (although me saying that is ironic because that is a perception of Africa as a continent that has been influenced by adverts showing it as a very hard place to live in).
    Although I think that the advert, for its purpose (to show that innocent fruit is trying to help Africa, and therefore increase sales as people want to help) is very effective, I also think that they could change the dialog and the script, I think that in a way, it patronizes Africa.

  58. This advert acts as blanket statement, suggesting that all Ugandan’s standard of living is so poor that they must receive Western charity. It is condescending and unfortunately not uncommon. Western media has often a narrow minded perception of Africa which focuses on the poorest and most rural areas. What many people fail to recognise are the rising living standards and booming industries (such as the telecom industry) and so Africans, as Adichie says, are perceived as ‘lesser than’. The irony is unbelievable, given those shaping this perception are largely why African development has been setback and made unstable. The continent is still scarred by colonialism and so whilst charity and Western reparations are at face value, a good thing; the perception created has been detrimental to the African stance on the world stage.

    1. I completely agree, the media is so narrow minded that they only portray Africa as the “poor continent” that “needs your help”. This single view of Africa is never going to help it progress and in fact, it just teaches people that Africa always has been and always will be the “poor continent, and this is just not true. It has made huge advantages in industry and development. Yes, it is still scarred by its past, but what country isn’t?

      1. Not only this, but a large reason for citizens of western countries being ignorant of what life is actually like in the so-called ‘poor’ countries is because large corporations like innocent smoothie make money by tricking people into believing that they are doing a good thing, using misinformation to almost guilt-trip people into buying their product by exploiting non-western countries. It is absolutely sickening, especially as there is very little opposition to these claims being made, meaning companies will continue to exploit these places and the people in them.

  59. This advertisement portrays Uganda, and more widely, the continent of Africa as a place relies on donations from people who have money. This is a very Eurocentric point of very and is very much based on the world’s “single story” of Africa.

    This “innocent” advert depicts the continent of Africa as far behind in development and in economic status. I feel like this is very demoralising as I know people from Uganda, and in fact all over Africa and they are all very proud people. They are proud of what they have achieved and even though they may not have the opportunities that we have and they may not be as privileged, they don’t let that get them down. They are very family oriented and unlike majority of the west, their vision, imagination and happiness is not blinded by how much money they have or what social status they have. Yes, money does matter and it certainly is useful to have, but I feel like they are the definition of the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.

    I am from South Africa, I live in Hong Kong and I go to boarding school in England. So I know about cultural diversity. When I first came to England, and even still, I get people asking me “If you are from Africa, how come you can afford to come to boarding school in England”, and I really have to think how to respond. When people first said this to me, it made me angry, not because they were inferring that if you’re African, you’re poor, but because I could not understand how, in this day in age, people are still associating being african meant that you are inferior and poor. Although I am not asked that question a whole lot, I still cannot believe how single minded people can be sometimes. I say to them “Yes, there are many parts of Africa that are less fortunate than me and that would never even dream of going to school, let alone boarding school in another country. However, not the whole of the African continent is behind on development.” I am from South Africa and I have travelled to lots of places in Africa and there are some beautiful parts of Africa and amazing people who don’t have any money at all.

    However, this is not the whole of Africa and people often only have a “single story of Africa”. This is not only this advert that presents Africa like this but so many other forms of media. People’s single story of Africa is created because all they see is the “starving, homeless and uneducated children in africa who need your help”, but in reality this is not the only part of Africa. I feel like if companies and businesses as a whole presented Africa in a more positive and less demeaning light, people would broaden their horizons and change their single view of Africa.

  60. Africa is portrayed in this advert as dependent on the likes of Mark, who is called a ‘hero’ by the advertiser. This sort of gross miscommunication is far too widespread in western societies and it is one of the many portrayals of Africa that dominate western mainstream media, which should have changed long ago. By only including one family in one poor region of the continent you are immediately creating a ‘single story’, a singular perspective that removes the multifarious nature and cultural variety which should be projected to the rest of the world, instead of a degrading and condescending story. The advert seems to imply that the African family are unable to support their livelihood without a middle-class westerner (like Mark) donating money to a charity to help.

    Maybe corporations and companies promotes their items like this to try and make us satisfy the sympathetic and charitable side of ourselves by buying their products in a grand scheme of advertising, however some degree of responsibility must now be held by each and everyone telling someone else’s story to at least try and tell more than a single story.

  61. I feel as if this advertisement is badly portraying a stereotype of Africa, which is especially important since it is only acting as a form of a buffer for current stereotypes that run in the Western world. To have someone think that a simple cow would lead on a strong chain reaction is an invalid fact, and beyond that, it feeds the western world the idea that cows will save Africa, a grossly incorrect and invalid stereotype

  62. The innocent ad is a perfect example of ‘a single story’, a single story of Africa, as well as a single story of the UK. I agree with the idea of the “chain of good” to a certain extent, and that the world is more connected as a whole than ever–economically and culturally, but the influences are two-way, from the UK to Africa, and from Africa to the UK. That is to say that African development in infrastructure and living standards will, in turn, have a positive impact on us equally. However, the ad only shows one direction of the flow, which distorts our perception to the world’s integration.
    Second, the video shows an unbalanced impact between the two parties. It pictures “Mark” as one person, while his impact made a difference to an entire family and even a community in Africa, which is nowhere near the truth. In fact, we need persistent effort from businesses, charitable organisations and most importantly, efforts made by local communities to conduct the so-called “chain of good”, and to achieve what was listed in the video e.g. a new solar cell. The idea of “one person in the UK helping a whole African community” is ridiculously biased.
    Finally, there seems to be a trend in western societies that the linkage to “Africa” or “developing countries” make charities more genuine and believable. Meanwhile, local problems and unprivileged groups were overlooked. This will then create a vicious cycle in which people have more pity to Africa, and their perception becomes more biased. In reality, there are as many social and economic problems within our own country as there are in Africa, which also needs public attention and awareness. It is understandable that the drink company pursue dramatic effects in its adverts, but dramatic and eye-catching does no equal to Africa.

  63. There are multiple things wrong with this advert. Not only does it re-inforce common western stereotypes about poverty in Africa, which you could address on so many levels, down to the seemingly cheap clothing worn and the way the husband and wife stand in a way that is perceived as vulnerable or the fact that their house is shown as a hut, it also feeds into a state of mind commonly referred to on the internet as a ‘White Saviour complex’ or in this case we can call it a ‘Western Saviour complex’. This refers to the way people in the western world have a tendency to feel all too superior for doing the bare minimum to help those less fortunate than them, in a way that belittles and degrades those people. The way the narrator words it as the man in the video ‘doing a good thing!’ For simply buying a smoothie is a ridiculous idea if you simply phrase it like that, especially since only ten per cent of the proceeds go to charity in the first place. The idea of a smoothie company using poverty pornography (using the idea of ‘doing good’ to attract western audiences) to try and sell their product is sickening, especially with the advert being based on misinformation. Even the idea that a cow would help someone in poverty is ridiculous, as even though the family might make profit from the milk, it would still cost money to take care of the cow itself. All in all, this advert is a poor way to advertise a smoothie, when all it is doing is spreading stereotypes and contributing to western ignorance, when they could have just made the mention about charity an offhand thing.

  64. While I’m sure that “10% of innocent’s profits go to charity” and “start a chain of good” in one way or another, I cant help but feel that the brand is using common misleading stereotypes of the African Continent to boost consumers ego and subsequently increase their sales. I think that the advert further builds onto this ‘single story’ that a lot of westerners have of the African continent. In a way westerners cannot be blamed, a lot of these misleading stereotypes and assumptions are rooted as ‘social facts’ which are passed on from generation to generation through parents, guardians and the media with little regard or questioning. However I believe that people are beginning to question such assumptions especially in the context of a large and diverse continent such as Africa.
    I think Innocent’s advert brings out human tendencies of social categorisation, leading to the formation of negative stereotypes.
    Yes, poverty does exist in Africa (as it does in every continent) but can this one characteristic of such a tremendously vast and populous land mass be belittled to a few vague and rather patronising characteristics? It seems a but ridiculous that a thirsty white man called Mark purchasing a smoothie because he fancies a drink will directly result in Jospeh from Uganda fulfilling his dreams of becoming an engineer. Realistically there’s so much more complexity to this so called ‘chain of good’ and the advert makes not just its setting in Uganda but Africa as a whole seem underdeveloped and reliant on foreign aid. All the while making westerners like Mark seem like ‘hero’s’ for unintentionally purchasing a drink whereby a tenth of the profits made go to ‘charity’. However while there are numerous criticisms to be made about this ad I will congratulate Innocent smoothies for adopting a more positive tone.

  65. In my opinion, whilst of course the underlying intentions of the advert are positive and constructive in nature, on initial viewing it portrays the solution to international development as much more simple than it really is in reality.
    The advert simply glosses over many major global development issues such as corruption and the difficulty of choosing where and how to allocate resources.
    This might be somewhat explained by the fact that the advert is targeted at a wide range of people and is simply trying to encourage participation in a charitable scheme. This would make sense as trying to explain the full issue of development would potentially put many consumers off; however the simplifying of this major global topic could be seen as an oversight by the company.

  66. Hi I’m Jamie, from Singapore, currently boarding in the UK.
    Upon watching this video, I feel like the self- aggrandizement and hero- status bestowed on mark is tasteless. It monopolizes on, and deepens the toxic misunderstood view of many westerners- that they interfere to “save” and “rescue”, are the only ones to “liberate” others and save them. It is jarringly reminiscent of the ideology stemming from the age of discovery and subsequently colonialism. While effective as a marketing tool catering to the general western public by capitalizing off of their “self- righteousness” and self- importance, i think that this is exactly the type of “single perspective stories” that we have been warned about. The 2D portrayal of the Ugandan family’s gratitude and paid for path out of poverty implies hero worship and over simplifies the complexity of poverty, while grossly over- exaggerating the reach of one western man named mark.

    To be fair, the video at least made an effort to personalize the story and humanize the characters by including names etc., but while the intentions were good, the effect remains to be a negative one. One that spreads the stereotype of the African Nation’s inferiority, and desperate need for direct foreign aid out of pity.

  67. There is certainly an oversimplification of the challenges that need to be overcome in order for economic growth in Africa to occur and for people to escape poverty, while clearly exaggerating the effect of drinking a single smoothie; and further, it disrespects the African people by belittling their struggles by making it appear as if all that is required to help them is a little Western support. It also does not recognise the struggle that living in poverty is.
    There are definitely some stereotypes deployed in the advert that do not present the majority of the African continent such as the straw roofs and mud huts; this is, of course, not to say that people that live like this do not exist, but it is a gross generalisation that does not represent the majority of the population.
    Some have argued that the advert is supposed to rouse the self righteous and self-important spirit of westerners, but I believe this is very strong. I believe the motivation of the advert is to demonstrate that their customers, in buying their products, are contributing to some good somewhere- not liberating the African people while believing they themselves are heroes (like the toxic colonialists they are).
    I am unsure however that the advert should change it’s presentation- because that is the general view of Africa in the UK, it is possible that if people saw further development than they expected they would feel as if their money was not put to good use compared to say, donating to charities helping Syrian refugees. I believe the problem runs deeper than simply changing this advert, it is clear that Western civilisation must re-educate itself to understand the real issues that affect the world and what countries are really like- but this is not particular to Western culture- in Asia there are equally huge stereotypes placed on Western civilisation. It would certainly help if adverts helped to portray a more accurate picture of different countries, but more must be done in journalism, television and film to show people the reality.

  68. I feel as though this advert brings relevant attention to the distinct lack in wealth between the Western society and our African counterparts. However, the chain of events seems to stem from the naivety of the British man. Perhaps this message is intentional, with the purpose of making the audience realise the widespread ignorance our country possesses? Similarly, the portrayal of the domino effect due to the purchase of single Innocent branded smoothie has been romanticised in my opinion, to perhaps make the target market of Innocent (of whom I presume to be of a fairly comfortable economic status), feel a little less guilty about their affluence in comparison to some. For they are purchasing a smoothie (of which the bottle is made from plastic which contradicts the ‘do good’ motto) where only around 14p is donated to charity. This links back to the idea that maybe Innocent are trying to exploit the hidden insecurities we all posses. The idea that we all know we do not give enough to combat the uneven distribution of wealth, yet we want to appear as though we are, potentially to gain some kind of social/moral high ground or just lessen the guilt.

  69. It is great that innocent donates some profits to charity, however I think the way in which the recipients of the aid are portrayed is very patronising and stereotypical. It implies that a western man buying one smoothie will easily change an entire family’s life, when this is not actually the case. 10% of a smoothie is only about 20p, and this is not enough to change a family’s life for the long term. For example, it may be enough to contribute towards the cost of a cow in some way, but 20p is not enough to educate this family in how to look after and make the most profit from this cow. I think that this video only reinforces the false ideology that a small amount of effort from a western society can solve all issues in developing countries.

    1. ” I think that this video only reinforces the false ideology that a small amount of effort from a western society can solve all issues in developing countries.”- Molly
      The above comment is so true. I’ll take a stand from a different angle that, the western world isn’t fair enough by really enforcing the African to learn how to fish and sell its fish on a common market via a shared marketing policy that’ll empower the African to stay independent. The ideology of the westerner sometimes pushes the African to stay idle with the perception of aid or teaching the African to fish without the fishing net but expecting the African to produce the fish. This ideology is whats not good about the westerner and the African.

  70. This advert makes sense in its simplest way. I am coming from a different angle such that, the perception of charity on aid and charity in Africa is a very different thing by Africans themselves. Africans could add value to the little ideas they’ve and it could get them strong and independent which in the long-round makes them become charitable with the understanding of simple inter-dependence explanation to avoid relying so much on aid. thus, i fish and get persons to buy my fish to stay sustainable.

  71. This innocent smoothie advert illustrates Africa as an isolated place where all areas suffer from poverty and are all the same, denying the continent of the fact it is actually hugely diverse with unique areas, some being extremely rich in resources and rapidly developing in their own right.
    This advert, similarly to others in the media, presents development as a simple and easy process, which can take place by a single person’s everyday actions. As most people are aware this isn’t the case and an action such as buying a smoothie, though do help if money goes to charities, doesn’t solve a family’s problems nor positively correlate to children becoming engineers. Yet It’s adverts like these that allow people to believe not only that those in impoverished countries are dependent on the actions of a single white man but that an action such as buying a smoothie directly causes someone to be able to go to a ‘good school’ and achieve their dreams. These adverts cause people to focus on the end goal, which can be a good thing as it educates and influences people to be better but doesn’t highlight how we realistically get there, and the process of the development strategy needed. So, if anything is to change I think it ought to be how we educate ourselves and the people around us, rather than making them feel guilty, leading to them donating money, we should ensure they understand and want to donate. They should donate money because they want to not because they think they are the barrier to people in Africa achieving their dreams and receiving presents they have always wanted.

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