Trouble in paradise as advertisers keep distance from segregation

The Diary has a murky past, a moderately large part of which was spent lounging under palm trees in the Cook Islands – a tiny nation in the South Pacific and the venue of the forthcoming series of US reality show Survivor.

The place resembles paradise, and is an ideal location for the show. The Diary once won a fishing contest there, snaring a 25kg wahoo just outside Aitutaki lagoon, where the contestants will try and outwit, outplay and outlast each other.

The pace of life is slow on the atoll, and harks back to a different time; deadlines are objects of curiosity, pigs wander by the roadside, there are no traffic lights, there’s one TV station with irregular hours and no billboards whatsoever. Perhaps a wave of nostalgia overcame the show’s producers, who have also harked back to a different time, and reintroduced racial segregation.

This series’ contestants have been thoughtfully split into black, white, Asian and Hispanic teams for the opening weeks of the show.

This exercise in Social Darwinsim, however, has given the US advertisers the willies. So far, General Motors, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Home Depot and Campbell’s Soup have all apparently bailed out of the show.

Whether they rejoin later will perhaps shed some light on one of marketing’s great unanswered questions. Is all publicity good publicity?

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