Asian American Commercial Watch: Seamless – stereotypical or racist?

A friend of mine posted on Facebook recently this TV commercial that he saw air during prime time on network television by Seamless:

“Ah, New York City. The people, the culture, the food. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Until it does. Get all your favorite New York food delivered anywhere in the city.”

(and food delivery service like GrubHub) and asked for opinions. I responded, “A bit stereotypical to say the least.” with the added unwritten thought of the commercial being somewhat racist. Afterwards, he added in his thoughtful commentary on the matter:

“The scene is the building of a skyscraper or the Empire State Building era, in the 1930’s. Poor Irish and, probably Italian, immigrants.

The delivery was for Thai food but I’ll use the parallel of Chinese food since that was the dominant type of Asian food in NYC in the 1930’s.

While Chinese restaurants existed in the 1930’s, the concept of Chinese food delivery did not exist. Moreover, that was the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act which lasted nearly 60 years and wasn’t repealed until 1943.

If the producers wanted to contrast the convenience of a food delivery service like Seamless and difficult to reach places, they could have simply use a neutral pizza delivery guy since Italian and Irish food was much more common those days. No respectable non-Asian hard hat Giovanni ate Asian food back then.

And so, there was no need for producers/ad to cast aspersions on Asians.”


Maybe the folks at Seamless thought their commercial needed some “diversity,” but the execution was kind of ridiculous. Taking a look at Seamless’s other TV commercial from a year ago was a lot more entertaining and relateable, as who doesn’t like free leftover food at the office?

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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