Saturday, 8 October 2011

How to tell Scouts apart

Before I go any further, I think the Scouts are basically a good thing. But I'm not so sure about this recruitment poster for them:

Is that actually a thing people say about the Scouts? That they all look the same? 'Oh, I was thinking of joining the Scouts, but I don't like the way they all look the same. Because if I don't look the way they all look, I might not fit in; but on the other hand if the way it works is that as soon as you're invested your face morphs to take on the standard Scout look, my parents might get confused, and pick up the wrong Scout from the milling hordes of identical Scouts outside the Scout hut.' No, I don't think it is, and I don't think the Scout Association should just make up things they pretend people think to debunk: 'Brownies are all allergic to feathers? Think again!' 'Cubs are all two foot tall with square heads and feet made of glass? Think again!'

Except, obviously, I know what this poster is really getting at. And to be honest, I think they should have the courage to come out and say it explicitly:

'All Scouts look the same? Think again! This one's black!'


D said...

Haha! So many unfortunate connotations to this ad. "Join the Scouts: we're not white supremacists (anymore!)" They're also implying that all white kids look the same to them, which is charming :P

Anonymous said...


Oh my, this poster really isn't good. As a graphic designer myself I think I'd rather get fired than put my name to something like this!

I see this a lot though. Its rather scary how people think in order to appear to be more accepting and diverse they have to put a black person on the poster (or basically someone who isn't white). Which is almost kinda racist in itself...isn't it?

There is such a thing as TOO politically correct methinks.

I used to be a Brownie and a Girl Guide...can't wait to see the poster for that -.-

Anonymous said...

ps. In a weird way I think I know what they were trying to aim for, because there are scout groups all over the world. They all have different uniforms and such. The emphasis should be on the uniform really. In which case they should have shown at least five different scouts from around the world...

At least I hope that's vaguely what they were aiming for. If not then this really is a racist ad >.<

Anonymous said...

Hah. Looking at that headline, an alternative reading is,"Do you think scouts all look the same? Think again - it's black people who do!"

Kaitebon said...

Just another example of how extreme political correctness really works out to racism...

Anonymous said...

I'd bet that there's a committee of some sort who reviewed the poster design and signed off on it before it was published. So, at least 1 person other than the graphic designer looked at it and thought, "Yes, that's exactly the message we want to convey to the public."

prwelly said...

To Anonymous directly above: As someone who has worked closely with advertising agencies and not-for-profits, I can advise you that campaigns/advertisements/marketing themes can be "focus grouped" to within an inch of their lives BUT then...someone at the ad agency says, "Well, it's tested well within our company" and the not-for-profit gets bullied into running with a lame campaign.

Then again, it could be that the said not-for-profit decided to fire the ad agency, take some kid off a swing from a playground down the road and shot a photo with a camera lying around the office and just put this together hoping they know their target market better ("Anyone know any black kids?" Anyone??"). In order to save thousands and thousands of $; though leaving much egg on someone's face. I love bad ideas.

Wonder if they'll release a survey in six months time championing the new diversity in today's Scouts?

Anonymous said...

Things have changed since Bluebottle was a Wolf Cub, obviously. No more khaki shorts, bush hats and skinny pale knees - and do 'woggles' even still exist? There was a time when a Boy Scout wouldn't be seen dead without his woggle.

Other than that, as Silent Bob would say, "I got nothing."

Anonymous said...

To prwelly: agreed! It only takes one person to mess up the entire thing. I've seen designers working day and night on a project only to have one guy at the top change it all. And we all have to follow whoever is at the top, right? >.< Then everyone looks bad...

I'd love to slap whoever thought this poster was a swell idea. I'd be willing to bet that the designer him/herself disagrees with it.

Anonymous said...

LOL! So much fail! Ah, the PC brigade strikes again, and misses by about a mile...

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern said...

I agree with Dasia that this poster could imply that all white kids look the same and as a white girl myself I wish I could argue otherwise. However, when I was younger my parents used to constantly confuse me with another little girl from my class leading to much confusion and embarrassment in the playground. I try no to read too much into this.
- Rosencrantz

Musical Lottie said...

I think I see what they were aiming for (and missed), but I recently led a music workshop with a Scout group in Luton (an incredibly multi-cultural town where 'White British' is an ethnic minority) and the vast majority of the group were white kids; I think only about 4 or 5 were not - vastly disproportionate of the residents of the area. So not only did they fail on so many levels trying to communicate the message, but the message is still wrong anyway!

Methinks this was probably designed - or pushed in that direction and approved - by a white middle-class man who lives in a detached house in the middle of the Gloucestershire countryside ... or something.

Daedalus said...

And Pick of the Week strikes again! This time it's the Jekyll-Hyde sketch being featured. Pity it has to be just before the next episode appears and thus drops off the Listen Again list.

Salvador said...

OK, so while the blog post is very funny as usual I think the ad is not quite as bad as is being made out and nor are its intentions - although it is quite clumsy. Depends who it's addressed to really - don't really think the target is knowing white middle classes - and the reverse take on "all look the same" is hardly racist as some are rather strangely claiming here but an obviously ironic take on a popular racial stereotype which it then applies to scouts (not white children). If the ad is attempting to say that the scouts had an image of being a predominantly white organisation and that they are actively seeking to change that image then I can think of better targets for some of the sneers. Not brilliantly executed but not SUCH a risible own goal by the "politically correct" mafia either.

Harebrained said...

The trouble with political correctness is that as soon as you try and impose it, it is no longer correct. This is a classic example of how incorrect you can be.

p.s. I can still see your winkie!

Salvador said...

Imposing the politically correct agenda is the work of the politically correct BRIGADE who can usually be found on Radio 4 of course in all their smug self-righteous liberal ponciness. I'm pretty sure the sinister agenda of improving diversity in the scouting movement would play very well on Woman's Hour.

Daedalus said...

Just listened to the final episode of Souvenir Programme. Well done, the best was indeed kept for last.

It looks (or rather sounds) like Mitch Benn has some serious competition!

Anonymous said...

Hehe.. recruitment drive that took a sharp left and fell off a cliff of no-repair

Amandha said...

I read the same thing Scott did. "Black People Look the Same"
Who's responsible for such horible PR?

Isodoro said...

This in no way relates to the scouting poster but I thought you would appreciate this. The writers description sounded like something you would say :o)

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It is sometimes easy to spot them because of their uniform and they always walk in packs.

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