Intel found itself in hot water Tuesday when several leading blogs highlighted a Core 2 Duo print ad the chipmaker admitted was "insensitive and insulting".
The ad, featuring a standing Caucasian man in casual business attire surrounded by six crouching African-American sprinters in a tableau many commenters found racially offensive, was pulled by Intel before publication in North America in all but one entry, a Dell catalog, said an Intel spokesperson.
In a statement released Tuesday, Intel admitted that the ad was a mistake.
"Unfortunately, our execution did not deliver our intended message and in fact proved to be insensitive and insulting," read the statement, attributed to Intel VP and director of integrated marketing Nancy Bhagat.
The ad was first posted at gossip site Gawker.com by the blogger "Copyranter" and later re-posted at Gizmodo.com, a technology blog owned by Gawker.com. Commenters at Gizmodo.com were not in full agreement about any racist intent in the ad, but most criticized Intel for producing an ad that could easily be perceived as racially offensive.
The Intel spokesperson told ChannelWeb that the ad had first run in Europe, where Intel first received complaints about it in June. She said Intel would take steps to avoid such incidents in the future, such as including its existing in-house diversity team in the vetting process for ads. Currently, the diversity team works on different issues, such as hiring.
"Two months ago, we knew of the issue and pulled the ad. We tried to pull all the entries that we had placed, but there was one that made it into the Dell catalog that we didn't manage to pull," the spokesperson said.
The ad agency that produced the ad was McCann Erickson, according to the spokesperson. She would not say whether blame for the ad was being laid at the feet of the ad agency or Intel.
"I won't point fingers. Both Intel and McCann-Erickson were working closely on this," she said.