During last night's BAFTA awards, Burberry tweeted out their congratulations to Dev Patel, who had just scooped up the Best Actor award for his role in Lion. The gesture was thoughtful enough-- the accompanying picture, though? Not so much.
No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. That is, indeed, a picture of British MC and actor, Riz Ahmed. Let's give Burberry the benefit of the doubt and assume the slip-up was an innocent one, probably made by a freshly graduated PR Intern who is now terrified (s)he'll be fired (if (s)he hasn't been already). Even so, there's a subtle implication here that's hard to ignore: that all brown people look the same, and even the biggest of companies, ones who have poured millions of dollars into constructing a likeable public image, can't be bothered to try and differentiate between them.
The Twitterverse quickly took notice of the mistake and loudly expressed their disappointment.
Trying to avoid a full-blown PR disaster, Burberry quickly issued an apology: “We have apologised directly to Dev and Riz for the mistake. We are incredibly sorry, it should not have happened. We are checking processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” They followed this up with another two tweets featuring Riz and Dev, both in their respective Burberry suits.
Hmmm, good recovery. Guess you're off the hook this time, Burberry. Just be thankful you didn't offend the brown girls of the world too badly-- we're a fearsome bunch when we want to be.
by Imaiya Ravichandran