The Dutch chocolate-milk manufacturer Chocomel has produced a new commercial that has gotten nearly 800k views on YouTube in the three weeks since it was posted. How has a commercial for a sweet dairy drink drawn that kind of attention? By employing old Orientalist and racist tactics, and Arab face. You know the kind: sleazy Arab sheikh tries to get what he wants by luring an innocent white man into his “palace,” where eager, exotic women line the walls.
Although, I must admit they’ve put some fresh spins on an old move. Here’s how:
1. They’ve made it look like a rap video.
As soon as the door opens, Arabic instruments mix with beats and a male voice repeats, “It’s a palace, it’s a palace.” There’s an “Ahhhhhh” that is heard periodically marking time like a tambourine. In fact, the song is so catchy a bunch of people made comments on YouTube asking who sings it.
2. The women look like Laker Girls.
I’ve never seen such a diverse harem. African-heritage, Latina-looking types, blondes — maybe even some “real” Arabs. Of course, they’re wearing beaded belly-dancing costumes, but they definitely move their bodies to the beat and are way more perky than most harem girls I’ve seen. It’s as if we’re at the Staples Centers in downtown Los Angeles watching the cheerleaders on the basketball court.
3. Even veiled women are sexy.
Typically women wearing the hijab are represented as docile and oppressed. But not in this harem. A veiled woman-in-red opens the door, inviting the white man in by signaling him with her fingers. Veiled and nearly nude women are typically juxtaposed against each other, but here they all just get along.
4. There’s a pool and a woman swinging over it.
I mean, if you’re going to get lured into a sexy, exotic palace, there should be a shallow pool in the center of the room so that women can get themselves wet. And, if you have a pool of water, you have to have a woman swinging over it on pink-petaled vines, right?
5. The sheikh wants chocolate milk.
This is a first. “Hey, tourist!” he shouts from his SUV in the middle of the desert, “I want that!” pointing to the can of chocolate milk. (Yeah, the Dutch sell chocolate milk in a can.) Later, sitting on his throne, he downs the drink like its ambrosia. It’s not money or women he’s after — he already has them — what he covets is what the white man has. Viewer beware of traveling to “Arabia,” you may get robbed — of your chocolate milk.
If you haven’t yet, click on the clip above and see for yourself.
Does Chocomel have the kids’ market covered so they’re trying to compete with soft-drink and beer manufacturers for twenty-something males? The commercial’s soft porn will definitely speak to that demographic, but I have a hard time believing that young guys will find it cool to drink chocolate milk. The company’s marketing team might have to come up with a bigger palace. I’d prefer they do like the male protagonist at the end of the commercial — and snap out of it.
Tell them what you think:
Through their website, which is in Dutch, but Google translate can help you choose “complaint” above the comments field. You’ll have to submit a snail-mail address, just make sure your zip code reads in Dutch format. Try “1111 AA.”
On Twitter (@chocomel) & #No2Arabface
This article was originally published on Feminist in the Suburbs.