Nikon South Africa Promises to Do Better After Announcing a Team of Influencers With Only One Black Photographer

Nikon South Africa Promises to Do Better After Announcing a Team of Influencers With Only One Black Photographer

Nikon South Africa has posted a statement on Twitter that promises greater diversity eleven days after announcing a team of seven new influencers that featured only one black photographer.

Nikon South Africa made the initial announcement on July 24, posting a video to its social media channels to support the roll-out of the new Z 50. The video, in which the sole black photographer, Austin Malema, speaks only to give his name while the other creatives explain their excitement about the camera, garnered almost two thousand retweets and comments on Twitter, and more than 400 comments on Instagram — far higher than the usual handful than Nikon South Africa’s posts usually receive.

More than three-quarters of South Africa’s population is Black.

Comments responding to the announcement were not kind. “This is embarrassing for your soul Nikon,” wrote one tweet. “You telling me you could only find ONE black creative in the whole of RSA?” Some on Instagram called for white influencers working with brands to put more pressure on them to be inclusive and diverse.

Nikon South Africa posted a statement on Twitter responding to the backlash. “We recognize that our recent influencer program launched in South Africa fell short of portraying these values that we commit ourselves to embody and project as a brand,” it explained. Nikon South Africa did not apologize but promises change, stating that it is “re-strategizing” its initiatives and will update the program to include additional creators.

Photographer and educator Zack Arias did not hold back.

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Tom Reichner's picture

How in the world could Nikon do this at this particular time, when the world's focus is sharply aimed at anything to do with racial inclusion/exclusion?

For the past few months, these race issues are right on the front page of every newspaper, across the globe, every single day. Do the folks at Nikon really have no clue what is going on with the world's collective consciousness?

If they had done this 3 months ago, it would be understandable ..... not right, nor smart, but understandable. But to do it now? RIGHT AFTER the whole George Floyd tragedy? It boggles my mind that they could be so ignorant of the issues at hand.

Juno Morrow's picture

For reference, the original clip is embedded in this video starting around the 1 minute mark.

SPEE DING's picture

So long as they choose the best “creators”, why does it matter what color their skin is?

Usman Dawood's picture

Do you think it’s reasonable to assume that there’s only one black photographer in South Africa for Nikon to choose from?

The arguments people use in the states is that black people are a minority. What’s the excuse in Africa?

SPEE DING's picture

The quantity of any skin color is irrelevant, only their ability matters. Did Nikon choose the best creators or not?

Nox Vega's picture

I'm white and it's easy for me to say. Maybe the choice was racist, maybe the white influencers were just better than black. I don't know.
But I have a question. Should a team be assembled based on their competence or based on their race?
It's unfair to say no to someone who's better and harder working and picking someone else who's clearly worse, just because "race/gender equality".
But then again, this could've been a racist decision.

Tom Reichner's picture

A team should be assembled on the basis of how the team will be perceived by the public. The goal of having a team is a marketing goal - the team is there to strengthen Nikon's position in the camera market. The whole reason to have a team is to enhance the public's perception of the company. The team is a Public Relations entity. The team should be assembled on the basis of what will impress the public in the most positive way.

Warren Willson's picture

Ok, and I agree black creatives should NEVER be excluded on the basis of colour alone, especially in a market like South Africa, but should the company market on the basis of crap images, just because it’s culturally appropriate, or should colour be taken right out of the equation altogether?

Affirmative Action can be as big a help or a hindrance to marketing as it can elsewhere. As the OP said, I have no idea if the decision was deliberately racist, just plain thoughtless or anything in between. Bandwagons are noisy and in-your-face, which is why so many jump on them, to share the attention. The corollary to a poor marketing choice should be a loss of sales, not a knee-jerk response to noisy protests that just happen to be trundling through at the time.

And before you think to pillory me for my opinion, I also think that creatives who also happen to be black are equally deserving of support and recognition, but not simply because they are black in a black nation. The art is what sells in the camera market, not the individual artist, despite what Zac whatsisname might think. Therefore if the art of black creatives resonates more in South Africa then that’s whose work should be supported and encouraged in that market.

Isaac S's picture

Fuck you Nikon.

Dakota Brown's picture

Imagine picking a team, not based on their creative ability and skills, but rather based if you have enough of a certain skin colour in the team. Reversing racism doesn’t get rid of racism