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Snappy campaign challenges prejudice that Roma 'avoid' work
01-08-2012 - Jan Velinger
The Czech NGO IQ Roma servis has just launched a new campaign aimed at tackling prejudices against the minority ingrained in parts of Czech society. Making use of snappy headlines in its ads, as well as a video clip showing Roma ‘invisible’ in society unless they are performing music (another stereotype), the NGO hopes to shake up the status quo.

I asked the NGO’s director Katarína Klamková about the campaign’s main goals:

“The main aim is to challenge prejudices of broader Czech society especially the view that Roma people in the Czech Republic are ‘collectively dependent’ on social benefits and are not willing to work. We are trying to change this and want to show that the Roma are individuals with individual characteristics just like any other person and that plenty of them are seeking work or have very good qualifications for the job market.”

The ads that I’ve seen make use of clever double meanings through slang: an example is ‘Cikán mi vybílil byt’. In English, vybílit means to paint or whitewash but also to completely rob in the case of a home or apartment...

Katarína Klamková “That’s right. We opted for common expressions, used in the pub for example, which even the media use and we put them in connection with our target group to show that collectively it was nonsense. It is important to see in people individual abilities and to give them individual chances. Otherwise it can be very discouraging for the new generation. If they are able to build up their self-esteem and their aspirations – so important in life – they have a chance. Otherwise, they are discouraged, their parents are apathetic and they lose their motivation in life, in schools, in their careers. That is one of the parts of a possible solution.”

Do you think that the humour which is inherent in the campaign – because the ‘punch-line’ to ‘Cikán mi vybílil byt’ is ‘but he did a really god job’, in other words he didn’t rob but he painted the place really well – will help get the message across?

Illustrative photo: Filip Jandourek “I hope so. Of course, it is difficult regarding any ‘ideal’ campaign. The issue is very difficult and some prejudices are very deeply held. I think it can work with the part of society that is open, which gives people are a chance, a younger segment of Czechs, university students and so on. We believe that this is the healthy party of society that will determine to a large degree what the future will look like. Prejudices are difficult to overcome for all of us – even I have some stereotypes with which I ‘close the day’ and I have to aware of them and reflect on them so that I can do something practical about it.”

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