"Couples Retreat" Controversial Poster in the UK

11/16/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Jonathan Wu

Universal is facing the heat as they plunged into a PR disaster by removing the images of the only African American couple, Kali Hawk and Faizon Love, in "Couples Retreat" from the film's UK posters.

In the U.S. version of the poster (see far left), all eight major characters of the film, including Hawk and Love, are seen standing knee deep with their names displayed above. The UK version (see on the right) excluded the images and the names of Hawk and Love.

A Universal spokesperson explained that the editing of the photo was done in order "to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognizable in international markets."

Since the release of the poster, Universal has been taking various backlashes by the British media with Mediawatch-UK director, Vivienne Pattison, stating, "I think this was an ill-conceived move...We celebrate diversity in Britain and we could have coped with seeing the same poster used in America."

Ann Simonton, founder of the non-profit organization Media Watch, stated, "Any discrepancy between the posters is cause for alarm because it makes racist assumptions about target markets...But this is a somewhat common response to how advertisers target audiences. So much of advertising depends on our ignorance and it's important for the consumer to remain ignorant. When they eliminate diversity, it maintains this false view of our world. It's sickening to think about what the industry's motives are, but it's important that they be called on it."

Jason Solomons, the film critic of the Daily Mail, a british tabloid newspaper, stated, "In terms of business decisions, this seems a pretty counter-productive one."

Since the publication of British media responses, Universal has acknowledge the omission and their regret for doing it. They have stated that the revised poster will not be used in other countries.

Was there really a need to photoshop the original poster? Is taking two less well known actors out of a promotional poster going to make the famous guy in the front anymore recognizable? I'm no consumer psychology expert, but this move on Universal's part seems highly illogical and useless if their goal was to make the film more popular to the general public.

What are your thoughts on this move?


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  1. Edward29 said...

    I've seen this a lot in movie posters as long as I can remember.
    They could of at least keep Hawk and Love's names on the altered poster.
    Who are they to say Hawk and Love aren't recognizable in international markets.
    The movie has an ensemble cast and they all should be displayed.