Apple's New TV Ad Uses The Italian Version Of The "N"-Word!

Terroni: A derogatory racist term for a Southern Italian.
Terroni: A derogatory racist term for a Southern Italian.

Before you start reading this Hub, there are various later developments that you should be aware of:

First of all, it is clearly stated on Terroni Restaurants' website that the term is derogatory; and The Italian Supreme Court has officially recognized that this term is offensive and anyone found guilty of using it must compensate the plaintiff for moral damages.

I took this situation very seriously, thus contacted a number of executives at Apple to make them aware of this situation, and on April 6 I was contacted by Mr. Stuart McKenzie from Apple Corporate Public Relations. He called me to explain that he had read this Hub and would discuss the matter with various other executives at Apple and come up with a solution.

On April 8, Mr. McKenzie called me again, and informed me that the use of offensive term Terroni in the Apple ad was entirely inadvertent, that Apple had no desire to offend the Italian community, and that the television commercial was going to "be pulled immediately and never shown again."

Apple has "done the right thing." By removing this commercial from the television airwaves, they are clearly demonstrating that they are sensitive to the issues surrounding their use of this derogatory term.

Thank you Apple. My fellow Southern Italians and I appreciate your action and are grateful for your understanding.

Now onto the Hub that brought down that unfortunate Apple television commercial:

Apple seems to have done the incredible. No, it's not an introduction of a new iSomething, it's one of the biggest faux pas stumble gaffes in modern advertising history.

I nearly fell off my chair last night as I was watching a network TV program. Right there, dominating the screen of the iPhone being demonstrated was the word: Terroni.

Here is the link to the video on the apple.com site.

To the uninitiated, allow me to inform you what Terroni means in Italian. It is a derogatory term utilized by skinheads, neo-Nazis, and other violent racists to indicate that Southern Italians are retrograde, primitive, stupid Neanderthals only fit to till the earth with an ox, and unworthy of civil rights or equality in any way. There is essentially no difference in the level of derogatory intent in the use of the word Terroni versus Ni*ger, Sp*k, Be*ner, Po*ack, or Ki*e.

As a man who was born and raised in Southern Italy, I would like to inform Apple Computer that on behalf of my millions of countrymen, I am profoundly offended and demand the immediate retraction of this blatantly racist television commercial.

I have been directly and personally responsible over the years for the sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars of Apple Macintosh computers. I have spent upwards of a decade evangelizing Macintosh products to a wide variety of private individuals and businesses. I am completely dumbfounded at the use of the word Terroni in an advertisement for an Apple product. I am well aware that some minor gopher at the ad agency will likely be called upon to fall on their sword and claim that they weren't aware that Terroni was a derogatory term, and that would infuriate me even more. Are you telling me that the prime time TV ad for a $100 billion dollar corporation is not vetted and checked before airing to millions of people? What if the word used had been Ka*fir, which is an extraordinarily vicious derogatory term for black Africans from the days of South African Apartheid? Would the doughhead at the ad agency use the same excuse... "I'd never heard of Ka*fir before!"

The same applies if the weak justification is that there are a couple of restaurants somewhere misbegottenly named Terroni. Would Apple's ad agency have used Sambo, the name of a Santa Barbara, California restaurant, or Chinks, the name of an eatery in Philadelphia? There are tens of thousands of perfectly acceptable restaurant names in the Yellow Pages which could have been used in the ad! How would African Americans look upon Apple's national advertising of a Sambo? About the same as Asian Americans would look upon Apple advertising Chinks!

Well, I'm not an African American or Chinese American, I'm an Italian North American, and what Apple has done is call me and my fellow countrymen a humiliating name that is completely equivalent to any derogatory racist term in use by the dregs of society. Terroni is a far worse racist name to call a Southern Italian than W*p, Da*o, Gu*nea, Ma*ia, or just about any you have heard. Just as any self-respecting African American would not sit idly by when Apple Computer featured the word Ni*ger or Ka*fir in a nationally broadcast prime time television commercial for an iPhone, then I will not sit idly by while Apple denigrates my entire heritage.

I would respectfully remind Apple Computer that in my hometown we had a highly developed Roman civilization when the American culture's ancestors in Britain were still living in huts. The Empire of Rome, which included my hometown, was the force that brought civilization to Britain and the debt of gratitude that all AngloSaxon modern society owes to Rome is incalculable. In today's modern society we are all civilized and equal: There is no room for despicable racial discrimination anywhere and for any reason whatsoever.

I am no moronic, soil-tilling, grunting caveman Terrone, and neither are the millions of my compatriots. Therefore, Apple Computer, we await your retraction of this offensive commercial!

From the FIRST PAGE of Google results for the search "terroni". So much for Apple not being able to find the derogatory meaning!
From the FIRST PAGE of Google results for the search "terroni". So much for Apple not being able to find the derogatory meaning!

Check out some of Hal's other PC Technology Hubs!

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Comments 97 comments

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

bobo... geez, I dunno... lemme ask Dr. Laura, Mel Gibson, or Michael Richards that. DUH!

LIMF: See above.

seanorjohn: Thanks. They had it coming! Uncle Hal will continue to keep their feet to the fire when they need it! :)


seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 6 years ago

Well done Hal. fantastic achievement to bring apple to their senses.


Long Island Marketing Firm 6 years ago

Could you do it better ?


bobo 6 years ago

The next thing you know, we will all have to consult a dictionery of all laguages to find derogatory words before we open our mouths. Seems as if PC has gone over the brink. . . . . everyone now uses it to open a lawsuit.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks Uninvited Writer! You're always invited and welcome! :)


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Well done Hal...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author


Shrek 7 years ago

Unlike all the other examples that you give, I have never heard of Terroni. I just did a google search and only got restaurants and city names, nothing in regards to being an offensive term.


Ph03nix 7 years ago

The point to the app is that you shake it and it randomly comes up with a restaurant. You think that they have a whole team of people reveiwing their comercials looking for a slur that is popular in another country that only a handfull oof people know what it is. On top of that in my book apologies only are warranted when someone knowingly does something wrong. If apple let the name past then they didn't knowingly say hey lets put a slur in here. your little racial thing here isn't the most popular itallian slur is it... What about the word wop, it's better known. I'm done with this blog. have a nice life searching out all of the slurs you can find in every walk of life and while your at it why don't you find this restaurant and call them and demand the apology, if it's true they are more in the wrong than apple.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I could not have been happier with the extremely polite and understanding tone of my conversation with the gentleman from Apple, who I will be happy to publicly identify once I receive more information. I am truly expecting that it will restore my faith in the company that I have evangelized since 1986! And that of my countrymen as well, especially on such a tragic day as today when so many of them lost their lives and their homes in the L'Aquila earthquake.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I am so happy!!! They are all about the people and a great company I hope you recieve the outcome you are looking for...:)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!

I received a call a few minutes ago from a courteous gentleman at Apple HQ who stated that he will be researching the situation and report back to me as soon as he is able to get a full picture of what has transpired to get that commercial on the air.

I appreciate his interest and cooperation and look forward to receiving further communications from him. I will, of course, post that information as soon as I receive it.

BRAVO, APPLE.

DO THE RIGHT THING!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Dave, I can certainly see your point, and also share your disgust for the Marroccheni del Sud, but the bottom line is that the Supreme Court of Italy holds that Terroni is offensive and liable for compensation for moral damages. Apple should have known better, and I have no intention of backing off on my demands for an apology from them.


DaveHarris profile image

DaveHarris 7 years ago from London, UK

I lived in Northern Italy for several years, with my family. We integrated totally into Italian society. We are all bilingual and my kids regard themselves as more Italian than English. And yet I rarely ever heard the T word spoken. If people wanted to use a pejorative about Southern Italians, it would generally be "meridionale". Yes, I know what it actually means. But, here's the point: it is the way it is used that gives the word its cachet of racism. I've heard people from the South refer to themselves as "noi meridionali". On the few occasions that I've heard the word terroni used, it has been as a respectful acknowledgement of those that work the land and produce Italy's wonderful food. Now admittedly, I was working mostly with professionals and I am well aware that there are those in the North who would like to saw Italy in half and watch the Southern half sink, and I share your disgust at such people. But they are in a tiny, tiny majority. Even the Lega del Nord has massively lost support over the last 10 years or so. And so, please remember: the T word originally had a perfectly innocent meaning. As you point out, at a certain point in history, it was hijacked. The wheel has turned full circle and in today's Italy I think you'll find they use other words and that that one has returned to its original use, at least with most people. If I remember correctly, the last pejorative I heard for Southerners was "Marroccheni del sud" which I though quite sick.

Allora, pace amico. Mi sembra che ai preso umbraggio ad una cosa di piu o meno niente. Salute.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Could not disagree more. Any moron could look on the front page of the google search AND look at the Terroni website itself: Both places show it as a derogatory term. NO EXCUSE.

APPLE: APOLOGIZE.


Julian 7 years ago

I'd just like to point out that this is a Canadian Apple ad, not international. It is designed with a Canadian market in mind, and as such they used a well known Toronto restaurant as an example.And as for your comment, "they should have known better", the people making the ad probably only knew of Terroni the restaurant, and didn't even think that it had any potentially derogatory meanings.Imagine this: I emigrate to Japan and decide to open up a delicatessen. As a jew I name the place "Kike's Deli" as a jab at anti-semites. Now, this is in poor taste, but if Apple Japan decided to use it as an example of its restaurant finder, it wouldn't be a case of them being anti-semitic.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Frank: We could have crossed that wall but the revolting stink of haggis dissuaded us. (Actually... Frank... which wall are you talking about... both the Antonine and Hadrian's walls were of Roman construction!) :)

angelo di fluno: Grazie! Thanks for the nice words. Much appreciated! And, yes, I fully intend on keep on raising hell until this situation is addressed by Apple!

NQR: I've been clear that I'm Italian thus I'm not from Dalut which is in Oman. Or perhaps you're talking about dilution which is the case where your brain cells were diluted by the sewage sloshing around in your skull! :)


NQR 7 years ago

You are dalutional


angelo di fluno profile image

angelo di fluno 7 years ago from Italy

Ciao Hal, hai scatenato un bel "casino"!!!!! ... hai fatto bene!

Angelo


Frank 7 years ago

"I would respectfully remind Apple Computer that in my hometown we had a highly developed Roman civilization when the American culture's ancestors in Britain were still living in huts. The Empire of Rome, which included my hometown, was the force that brought civilization to Britain and the debt of gratitude that all AngloSaxon modern society owes to Rome is incalculable. In today's modern society we are all civilized and equal: There is no room for despicable racial discrimination anywhere and for any reason whatsoever"

That may well be , my Italian friend ( disclaimer, as a motorcyclist I have visited Northern/Southern Italy lots...and they are without doubt the friendliest, motorcycle friendly nation in all Europe!!) but even the mighty Roman Empire couldn't cross the wall built by MY Gaelic/Celtic ancestors..........!!!

Ciao,

Frank.....(UK expat)


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