WPP-owned PR agency OPR and Who magazine have come under fire after mistakenly publishing a photo of another model in an interview with Adut Akech, which ironically was about race and identity.
OPR was the agency of record liasing with Who on behalf of Melbourne Fashion Week, which Akech was in Australia as an ambassador for.
In a photo bungle, OPR sent Who a file of images to go alongside Akech’s interview, except the photos weren’t just of Akech but rather of model Flavia Lazarus, and other MFW models.
Akech took to Instagram to air her thoughts on the issue and while she said Who had “apologised to her directly” about the error, she felt the need to speak up about the incident and how “unacceptable and inexcusable” the situation was.
She wrote: “Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue,” adding the photo “defeated the purpose of what [she] stand[s] for.”
The model also said the stuff-up showed how “people are very ignorant and narrow-minded” in thinking “every black girl or African people looks the same.”
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I’ve have given some deep thoughts the past few days on how to approach this situation that isn’t sitting well with me. For those who are not aware, last week @whomagazine (Australia) published a feature article about me. In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to colour in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl. This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue. Whoever did this clearly the thought that was me in that picture and that’s not okay. This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview. By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrowminded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same. I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model. My aim for this post is not to bash Who Magazine -they have apologised to me directly – but I feel like I need to express publicly how I feel. This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop. I’ve been called by the name of another models who happens to be of the same Ethnicity, I find it very ignorant, rude and disrespectful towards both of us simply because we know that this doesn’t happen with white models. I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better. Big publications need to make sure that they fact check things before publishing them especially when its real stories and interviews and not just some made up rumors. To those who work at shows and shoots it’s important that you don’t mix up models names. Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry
Writing the bungle should be a “wake-up call” to the media industry, Akech went on to say it wasn’t the first time this has happened, adding “that this doesn’t happen with white models.”
In a statement to B&T, OPR said: “Regardless of where the administrative error was made, we sincerely regret any upset it has caused to the models involved, and our client the City of Melbourne.”
Who magazine also apologised for the incorrect image.
“Who spoke directly with Adut to explain how the error occurred and have sincerely apologised,” a spokesperson said.
“We also apologise to Flavia Lazarus for the misprint.”
The magazine said it was trying to share Akech’s “inspiring story and highlight her achievements”, and that it’s “committed to increasing the diversity in the pages of Who, and arranged the interview in view of this.
“Hopefully the result of our misprint will be more people talking about this issue in the industry and tackling it head-on.”
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