This is a Brazilian beer ad put out by a brand called Devassa, a word–though widely associated with the brand– that translates into something like “slut,” represented by the pin-up girl that serves as the company’s logo. Now, this particular ad is selling dark ale. Or a black woman. Depending on how you read it. The text translates into:
“It’s by her body that you recognize a real black woman. Black Devassa (Slut). Full-bodied, dark ale. High fermentation, creamy, and with the aroma of toasted malt.”
This is not the first time that Devassa has used incredibly blatant and sexist wording and images to sell their products. All of their campaigns and beers bear names representing different types of women, i.e. blonde women, red headed women, or in this case, black women. For a time, Paris Hilton posed as the face of Devassa Loura (Blonde Devassa), photographed in ads titled things like:
Hilton was later replaced by Sandy, a Brazilian actress famous for being “virginal” and “pure,” creating waves of controversy as to whether she was betraying her image, or really–according to her–proving that being sexy doesn’t require vulgarity. This seems difficult to believe when working with Devassa, since other ads of theirs for the same campaign sport images of half-naked women literally stamped with the devassa logo. The company’s advertising campaigns are so offensive that multiple ads of theirs have been removed from print or television due to widespread protest and pronouncements made by the National Counsel on Publishing Self-Regulation (CONAR).
I find this ad (displayed above) to be particularly offensive, as it is not only sexist (a specialty of Devassa) but incredibly racist. This post over at Audácia das Chicas (in Portuguese) points out that in all of Devassa‘s other ads, the women are facing the camera. Only in the ad for Devassa Negra does the woman have her back to the viewer, in a position that suggests secrecy, as if she had or were something to hide. It reminds me of the stereotype of the black mistress, hidden from public eye, and viewed only as an object of pleasure. Even the text suggests it, by saying: “It’s by her body that you recognize a real black woman.” As if black women were nothing but their bodies.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised at seeing women compared to beer in order to make money, but Devassa has more than crossed the line with their ads.