It’s hardly like billionaire couple Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z need the cash, so the superstar duo could well be regretting signing-on to be the face of luxury jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. as yet another controversy envelops the campaign.
A new instalment of the ongoing “About Love” campaign dropped overnight – a two-minute long TVC called “Date Night” – that critics are suggesting shows Beyoncé with heavily whitened skin.
The faux pas was first called out by US broadcaster Edward Adoo who said said the star “looked like a white European” and it was dispiriting to see a black star “camouflaging” her natural skin tones.
Writer and commentator Dominique Samuels added the ad could potentially be “harmful” to young black women.
Samuels tweeted: “It’s a very stylish advert but you can’t hide the fact that Beyonce’s skin looks substantially lighter than it usually does. You only need to flick back through her Instagram and see she’s a lot darker than in that advert.
“She’s wearing a lot of make-up, there’s a lot of filters going on – she looks a completely different shade.
“There has to be balance, on the one hand, why are we still obsessing over what people look like? On the other, for Beyonce, as a black woman, to appear to change her skin tone sends out a worrying message to her young and older fans who look up to her,” Samuels said.
Check out the spot below, which it has to be said is (A) terrific fun for such a traditionally conservative brand and (B) the whole thing gets delightfully hijacked by the couple’s nine-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter.
On top of today’s outrage, the campaign – that launched back in August – has already found itself embroiled in a number of controversies.
Namely Beyoncé’s decision to wear Tiffany’s famous rare yellow carat diamond that’s valued at a cool $42 million. The rare diamond was mined in South Africa in 1877 by black slaves. It’s also said to be a ‘blood diamond’ – a gem mined in a warzone to finance violence or illegal activity.
After the controversy became public, a spokesperson for the singer said: “Beyoncé is aware of the criticism and is disappointed and angry that she wasn’t made aware of questions about its history.
“She thought that every final detail had been vetted, but now she realises that the diamond itself was overlooked.”
When the campaign launched, it also caught the ire of art lovers angry that a painting in some of the initial teasers, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 piece called Equals Pi, was being used in a jewellery commercial.
The work had been hidden away in a private collection and was only recently purchased by Tiffany & Co.
Friends of the painter, who died in 1988 at the age of 27, said the use of the artist’s work was inappropriate.
Alexis Adler, who lived with Basquiat in the late seventies, told The Daily Beast, “I’d seen the ad a couple days ago and I was horrified.
“The commercialisation and commodification of Jean and his art at this point – it’s really not what Jean was about,” she said.
Adler said that the anti-capitalist artist would have wanted his art to be placed in museums so that it was accessible to everyone.
“Unfortunately, the museums came to Jean’s art late, so most of his art is in private hands and people don’t get to see that art except for the shows. Why show it as a prop to an ad?” she said.
Stephen Torton, who worked as Basquiat’s assistant, added that he doubted Tiffany would have even let the Black artist into one of its stores when he was alive.
“They wouldn’t have let Jean-Michel into a Tiffany’s if he wanted to use the bathroom, or, if he went to buy an engagement ring and pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. We couldn’t even get a cab,” he told The Daily Beast.
Torton – who said he mixed the paint for the artwork – insisted that Basquiat did not intend the colour in the piece to resemble Tiffany’s signature blue, as LVMH has suggested.
He posted on Instagram: “The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied was in any way related to Tiffany Blue, is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment.
“But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is just too much.”
Fans of the artist also questioned why such a rare piece had suddenly resurfaced in an ad campaign.
“They been hiding a Basquiat for decades just to use it for a Tiffany’s ad?” one asked. Another commented: “Jay-Z cosplaying [pretending to be] as Basquiat is hilarious to me.” Another added: “He wanna be Basquiat so bad.”
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” scoffed another detractor on Twitter. “His art was all about pain and beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf and flippant flex on his legacy.”
Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]
Reddit’s annual Recap report has revealed the issues and moments that captured Australia’s collective mind over 2023 with, naturally, the Matildas featuring high on the list. The inaugural Australia-hosted Women’s World Cup saw Aussies glued to the footy (or, indeed soccer) with one enterprising user capturing the moment that Cortnee Vine scored the winner against […]
Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]
Spikes Asia, APAC’s most prestigious and sought-after Award for creativity and marketing effectiveness, has revealed its 2024 Jury line-up today. The 93 industry experts from across 18 markets represent APAC’s leading talent from a diverse range of disciplines. 2024 sees the highest representation from brands, including Budweiser, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and, for the first […]