Social Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

What do you think would happen if the Brawny paper towel man was black?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21461points) May 7th, 2010

Relatively recently, Brawny redesigned the man on their paper towels. How do you think the American public would have reacted if the redesign had been of a black man rather than a white man? I was discussing this with my black roommate the other day and we think that one of two things would have happened.

1) Sales would have gone up because a number of people would have looked on Bounty as a diverse and friendly company, even though sales in some places would go down mayhaps in the Deep South.

2) Racism and aversion to change would have prevailed and sales of Bounty paper towels would have gone down.

What do you think? Would, perhaps, people not care at all? Do you think a different outcome would be more likely?

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21 Answers

jfos's avatar

Is it Bounty or Brawny?

I think sales would go up, since people would be convinced that the sections are larger than other brands.

ubersiren's avatar

@jfos It’s Brawny. As in a brawny man. She just had a little slip up.

I don’t necessarily think the sales would drop significantly. People who always buy Brawny would most likely continue to buy it. There will always be some ignorant prick who would refuse to, though.

jfos's avatar

@ubersiren I see. I didn’t know that Bounty didn’t have a man until just now when I checked Google Images.

I think there are people who would no longer buy the product due to a black man being on the front. I don’t think there are many people who would buy it only because of a black man on the label.

chyna's avatar

I buy the Kroger brand. They are 69 cents a roll.
I don’t think I would’ve noticed if they changed the Brawny man and if I did buy the product, I know that would not influence me.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’m sure some people would probably stop buying them because of it and perhaps some would start to buy them because of it. I think for most people, it wouldn’t matter one bit. Honestly, I think a lot of people wouldn’t even notice it unless someone pointed it out.

Akiora's avatar

I’m sure there would be some outcry of racism on Bounty’s part, a la “Bounty is implying the black people are good at cleaning up others’ trash and are therefore inferior.”

Of course, this would undoubtedly have nothing to do with such a change. Not unlike the whole Google Autocomplete Fiascos

At least here in the United States, it’s hard to cast a minority of any form as a mascot because people are want to read too much into the choice. That, and even if the general public does not, most special interest groups would jump all over an opportunity for publicity.

robmandu's avatar

Old Spice has been enjoying enormous success with their new ad campaign.

My opinion, I think the querent’s perceived outcomes 1) and 2) are both pessimistic (or dare I say, racist). I do not think that the querent intends it so. I just think that the race (or gender, or ethnicity) of the pitch man often time matters far less than if the commercial is actually good, interesting, funny, engaging.

Facade's avatar

One more fictional character to lust after lol

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’d want to see him do Aunt Jemiah?
Sorry, its been a rough stretch.

KatawaGrey's avatar

My apologies, I made a typo, thank you @ubersiren. :)

@robmandu: I agree, both outcomes are racist, but, let’s be honest, if it wouldn’t make a difference, I wouldn’t be asking this question. As for the Old Spice guy, isn’t he an athlete? Someone told me he was famous. Also, it’s different with real people. A logo with a person that has to be drawn on is different for some reason. I think it’s because the people who design the man on Brawny have to make all the decisions as to what he looks like. One of those decisions is ethnicity.

@Facade: You don’t lust after the current Brawny guy? :-P

Facade's avatar

@KatawaGrey lol, I don’t recall what he looks like

Facade's avatar

He looks like he knows how to handle his wood.

netgrrl's avatar

I hope it wouldn’t make a difference, but sadly, it might.

They need a “Brawny Pack” – a culturally diverse group of men.

Or maybe a Brawny woman ala Rosie the Riveter.

ubersiren's avatar

@netgrrl Good idea! I like that; having a strong woman on the package would be very empowering!

RedPowerLady's avatar

I would think people would assume it is an artificial change and be disgusted with the company. I would also hope that their brawny man would be appropriate and not in the nature of “black face” which would of course cause uproar. I like @netgrrl suggestion. I would like to see a diverse set of brawny men but mostly women (I mean we are the ones they market to anyhow). In that case I think their sales would go up because it would be seen as a commitment to diversity b/c it takes obvious effort to make such a large encompassing change.

PacificToast's avatar

It’s just a picture, I’m sure some deep racists would not buy the product, but they’d be the same people that didn’t buy Uncle Ben’s Rice, or Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix.

mrentropy's avatar

a) I think it would come in a larger roll.
b) I don’t think it would make much of a difference. Although in American culture (at least), the lumberjack is usually white, I don’t think many people would even notice. Now, if you had two lumberjacks, a black one and white one, then people might notice. Especially if they were looking very friendly. Very friendly.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I’d be just fine with it, so long as he was still brawny, and I could still sigh lustingly after him every time I went through the paper section of the grocery store.

Kraigmo's avatar

I hope most people wouldn’t care one way or the other, and that includes subconsciously.

I know I wouldn’t care. I go for price. They could put Osama bin Laden on that thing, and I’d still buy it, if it was the cheapest per square foot.

Silhouette's avatar

Nothing. A friend of mine is very proud they made the new guy fabulous.

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