Photographer Recreates Famous Brand Adverts to Highlight Lack of Diversity in the Industry

Photographer Recreates Famous Brand Adverts to Highlight Lack of Diversity in the Industry

Does the world of advertising suffer from a lack of diversity? One photographer certainly thinks so, and to highlight the issue, has faithfully recreated some of the best known advertising campaigns of recent years to imagine what they would look like with a black model instead of the white models predominately used within the industry. Entitled "Black Mirror," the project is the work of Los Angeles-based photographer Raffael Dickreuter and his girlfriend, model Deddeh Howard. Dickreuter believes it was being part of an interracial couple which first opened his eyes to the lack of diversity in the photography of many of the world’s leading brands.

We live in a globalized world now, with many interracial couples producing the next generation of mixed races. I feel that is not represented much by all the big brands out there.

Undertaking the "Black Mirror" project by recreating famous campaign images of brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and more was not without its fair share of challenges. In order to give most impact to the issue, Dickreuter wanted to match the style and mood of the each image as closely as possible. From calculating how the advertisements were lit to scouting locations to match the original, he knew from the start that undertaking this project would be a daunting task. 

The biggest challenge turned out to be the shot I was most passionate about: the Guess campaign with Gigi Hadid on an old motorcycle. It took a while to even figure out what exact motorcycle that was. Simply similar would not cut it. It turned out that it was a rare 1939 Indian Chief, and only very few exist.

In undertaking the Black Mirror project, Dickreuter and Howard hope to shine a light on the lack of diversity within the world fashion and advertising by demonstrating how many of the campaign images would work equally well with black models as well as white. 

Simply too many fashion shots these days look all the same. More creativity would be amazing and would also provide great opportunities for us photographers. I hope this project brings some awareness to the issue and just opens up the creative space in the world of advertisement a bit. We live in the year 2016.

All Images used with permission of Raffael Dickreuter

Paul Choy's picture

Paul Choy is an international documentary photographer, writer, and official Fujifilm X-Photographer. He specialises in telling stories of the people he meets and the places he visits through the photographs he capture. His work has taken him across six continents, documenting beautifully unscripted moments of everyday life all over the world.

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This is moronic to say the least. Generally most ad agencies will present their material to suit the needs of the market it is aimed at, not some bleeding heart liberal's twisted idea of what the world should look like.

So by this logic, Chanel, Guess and Vivara don't have black clients?


To say that this is moronic is the most moronic thing that can be said... moron!

I apologize, I should not have called you a moron. But I'm not erasing it, what's done is done.

I agree, ad agencies should accurately reflect their market. At the moment, it is pretty clear they do not, hence the great need for much more diversity.

Here is the thing though, in America, Caucasians make up about 63% of the population. The median income for Asians is $79k, Whites $63k, and Blacks $36k (there are other minority groups I left out but Asians and Whites are the top earners).

So from a marketing standpoint, it totally makes sense to use models that appeal to the largest and wealthiest demographic in America does it not?

I understand the desire for equality and diversity in any given industry, it's a noble thing to pursue, but from a capitalistic point of view it wouldn't necessarily be the smartest decision for a company.

All that being said, as a photographer and creative myself, I actually prefer shooting a diverse group of models simply because it makes my work more interesting regardless if my casting decisions do not translate into more sales for my clients or personal work. If I'm going to justify my creative decision, then I have to also respect the decision of these advertising agencies.

So if Caucasians don't see products on models that look like them, they wont buy?

You can replace Caucasians with any race and it would be true. Go to Asia and you will see Asian faces on their billboards and marketing. Go to India and you will see Indian faces. Pretty sure in Africa you will see African faces. Hell go to Miami and you will see more Latin american faces on ads and even ads in spanish. Companies target their demographic because the customer is more likely to buy if they see their own face. It's not just the nature of white people its HUMAN nature.

Contrary to what you would expect, China leans heavily towards the use of Caucasians in their print ads, media, etc. Casting Matt Damon in their latest blockbuster is just another example. They aim to satisfy their hunger for western consumerism

I hate to disagree with you, but after 12 years in the ad business - believe me - you're not appealing to your target audience. You're appealing to what they want to see themselves. Their desires. Ad business isn't about PC, it's quite the opposite. You're not selling a product, a service, or an idea. You're selling the feeling it brings you.

You are right, and still the idea is to choose the model based on the marketing idea.

Matt Damon's character was Caucasian.

I live in Africa and most advertisements I see here use black models, including the top end brands (who use satellite ad agencies in various countries who understand what their clients' market is there).

The photographer who shot this stuff is trying to push an agenda that is racist in nature and all he will do with this behaviour is throw more fuel on a fire that most people are sick to death of. Caveat emptor.

The left is anti-capitalism, though.

It's also important to note that many fashion campaigns are run on a global scale, in which case they need to appeal to a much broader audience. If this article was focused on the editorial industry, I might be inclined to agree. But commercial clients are free to choose whom they wish to depict in their campaigns. Ad agencies are only there to make their clients happy, not argue points on equal ethnic representation.

Why people who can not be held accountable always think they should decides how others should run their businesses? That is a question I yet to find answer.

Love this. His images are incredible!

ETA, since this got a little trolly: I appreciate the time and effort put into these images (finding the '93 Indian??), and think they are every bit as beautiful as the original campaign images, in Gisele's case, think the darker skin works better with the background as a stand alone image. There may be more people that make a connection with a model like Gisele, and there might be more light skinned people that buy these brands, but the photographer's point is made all the same. I just became a fan of his work and message.

I agree with your point regarding using a model that works better in the environment. I think black models work better in close-ups but not as well in longer shots due to the fact in some cases (not all), it's difficult to make out facial features which creates a desired connection. is it difficult to make out facial features.

I'm not sure if I should reply since you voted me down. That makes it seem as if you've already decided my response was invalid. But...
Looking at the photo with the models on the motorcycles, while you can certainly see the black models eyes, nose and mouth, they don't stand out as well as those of the white model. In looking at the other photos, it's more or less of a problem based on distance and, though not demonstrated here, could also be a problem in certain lighting.
I love photographing black models but, like all subjects, you have to make adjustments for the individual.

Would have been nice if he had used opposite colors for the clothing though. Black in black just does not have the same impact as the contrasty White in black/Black in white.

Sitting on an Indian Chief sounds racist to me. Where is the photo content? This is not the Huffington Post.

There is a remarkable lack of diversity in the posted photos.
There's also a lack of "diversity" (I assume racial?) in publications and advertising aimed specifically for the black, brown, etc. demographics. I doubt the photographer addressed this blatant media bias. I agree with Dallas's sentiment.

Ha, that's an interesting argument....more diversity means just black female models instead of white female models. And because he used his own girlfriend, the diversity is actually way less in the's just one single person.

The intention of this project appears to be offering food for thought, provoking conversation. Clearly this has been achieved. But it has to be remembered, this was just a personal project of a model and photographer couple, shooting a project together, without a budget, in their spare time.

I'm not sure there was a need to use multiple models (or photographers for that matter) when they had already achieved the results they were seeking between the two of them,

I wasn't aware that ad campaign "lacks" diversity that much.
People are too sensitive nowadays. Honestly, it all depends on what is the intention of the ad. I've seen different ads with models coming from a wide array of nationalities.
This need to stop. Calm down. People starts to assume that if it's a white model on the ad, suddenly the others are either neglected or rejected.

And if you really want to fight for that "diversity", there are more than the black African roots. You might as well include the vast variety of uniqueness of people from Asia, Europe, Middle East, e.g.

Nothing highlights a "lack of diversity" like using the same model for every shot! Gotta love the irony! I think the fact that he devoted so much time to getting the same motorcycle for a single shoot and zero time to using models other than his girlfriend highlights his intentions more as a publicity stunt for the two of them and less about the issue of diversity.

It seems like people are missing the point. The point the photographer is making is not that it SHOULD have been done like he did it. It's that it COULD be done without compromising the integrity of the ad. If anything has been proven it's that America and the world at large is becoming more and more multicultural. He's attempting to prove that the industry can break out of its comfort zone and their products will still sell. It's not saying that white models shouldn't be hired, but that models of color can and should be an option.

I think Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell proved this couples point...a couple of decades ago. Why were these originally shot with said white models? I am sure some internal marketing study would answer that.

THANK YOU. I'm realising that not a lot of people are understanding this. Some of the commenters sound like the folks who got mad at Mall of America using a black Santa...

It's a sticky subject. Personally I believe that the model with the best look should be in the campaign regardless of colour. What I find a little weird here though is the only photo that I prefer the black model in is the second lot. The white skin has a lot more contrast and suits the tone better (IMO) in the other shots. What I don't like about these ideas is the notion that diversity = equality = we are all good people. Personally I think that is B.S. I'm naturally drawn to the looks that different nationalities possess but if you tell me that I have to use a certain type of person for my photo rather than the person I had in mind, I'll tell you to go jump. Statistical parity is a stupid notion.

i feel like we all know that caucasians are the majority in the market but the product is being used by all women. It may not seem important to some people but to POC its a big deal because we have to view ads and wonder what it will look like for us. Most of the US is overweight and not a typical model size, you don't see these brands putting out the normal body sized models because they are the majority. Another one of the you have to be in our shoes type of thing to understand. just because you cant relate doesn't mean it isn't a problem.

You people arguing about racial stuff and i'm like "ohh my f**k, look into how he nailed all those shots! Look at the retouching!".

where is the diversity when all of the models are black now ? i do not see the point....
Only one i can see is this way just people can see this and talk about it otherways is just copycat...

Just another stunt.
Using racism issue for their own advertisement. Apparently it worked if we read about it.

Diversity for the sake of diversity, like anything for the sake of progress, is masturbation.

The majority of people on Earth are Asian fyi.

Talk about diversity, then use a black girl that is so stereotypically beautiful that she probably represents all of 1% of women around the world. That aside, they're are plenty of famous photos of black women too; the photographer just chose these to make a point.

Thank you for the post, and Raffael's work is absolutly beautiful!

To those who believe they should decide how others run their business, ask yourself, can you be held accountable for the changes you are suggesting? Because if you don't, your irresponsible decision could really hurt people. Every right comes with responsebility, and those good folks in the branding department and ads companies bear them every day. So I recommend everyone leave others' business alone.

Everything they choose in a ad shoot is about selling product. There are very highly paid people that work hard at figuring out what works and what doesn't. It's all about the target market and what will subliminally appeal to them. Most marketing is based around manipulating fragile minds, which means most people. Sometimes a frog does the trick. These highly paid people are making those decisions based on a lot of data. It's nothing personal, it's business. I live on a tropical island with an asian tourist base so we always make sure that demographic is included in marketing shoots.

While the story is nice and his photography is very well done, I think that maybe his ideas about the the lack of diversity in fashion, or product placement photography are skewed (obviously). to assume that companies only book mostly "white" talent is just absurd. They usually use the talent that is relevant at the time of shooting, or talent that fits their target audience.

And if he thinks that other races of models are under represented, maybe he should start a model agency that only deals with "non" white models, and market them that way. I'm all for diversity of choice and people, and why is it alway some white person who has to make a statement about the lack of diversity.

I live near Detroit, I don't hear Black people say that they want more diversity in their neighborhoods or schools, but when it comes to the white neighborhoods and schools they are the first to point it out that there is a lack of diversity.

Now we get this "campaign" of more diversity with models..... well get more black people to go into that career choice..... instead of blaming the industry.

This comment section has been very interesting. As an African-American in marketing, I feel there is an argument for target markets, but there's also still the case that there is a lack of diversity. Most people don't notice it b/c they're white and don't think about a lack of representation in popular magazines.

Some people are getting caught up in the skin and clothing tones being close (even though i see plenty of separation to see the detail of the clothes), but no one points at that the skin of the white models is sometimes close to that of the background. ALSO, backgrounds can change and so can the clothes.

It just feels like a cop out to say it's strictly about target market. How often in your personal projects do you seek out diversity in your models? Judging from some of the portfolios here, not often....

What annoys me is that this man would certainly not have seen the lack of diversity if his girlfriend was not black. This lack of chronic otherness is a disease.