Tech brands are really trying to make wearable speakers a thing. Both Sony and Panasonic have recently revealed neckband sound contraptions, and we're unconvinced that they'll ever not look weird. But even stranger than the product itself is Panasonic's disastrous marketing imagery for its new SoundSlayer speaker.
The Photoshop-heavy campaign features gamers fully immersed in their sound experience – soundwaves bursting out of the SoundSlayer, dragons breathing fire into their ears, that sort of thing. But not only is the imagery ridiculously over the top, but the internet has spotted an altogether more troubling design crime. Indeed, unlike the best print ads, this is earning double-takes for all the wrong reasons.
After a stock imagery-based investigation, The Verge (opens in new tab) discovered that Panasonic appears to have placed a white man's head atop a Black man's body, and also lightened the latter's skin to match. Which, you'll be unsurprised to hear, is not going down well online.
OK @PanasonicNA, WTF https://t.co/siE1lAjd9yAugust 26, 2021
This was ordered by a marketing person, stewarded by an art director, and executed by a retoucher, and they should all be ashamed and named. @panasonic Panasonic photoshopped a white man’s head onto a Black man’s body https://t.co/Wk4oxaXwO3 via @VergeAugust 26, 2021
As many have pointed out, Panasonic appears to be offering a crash course in what not to do when it comes to advertising. It's not clear what exactly what was wrong with the original image, or why, if Panasonic was unable to achieve its desired effect using stock imagery, the brand couldn't have simply hired a photographer. Whatever the explanation, changing the colour of a model's skin arguably isn't a great look.
And now that's been pointed out to Panasonic, it seems the company agrees. According to The Verge, it has pulled every promo image featuring a human being from its image distribution folder for the product, and claims to be "looking into the matter".
Well, if all that's got you in the mood to buy a weird neckband speaker, check out Sony's snappily titled SRS-NB10. And if you'd prefer something a little more traditional, you'll find today's best AirPods deals below.