NBC said it meant “no offense” by a commercial involving a monkey on gymnastics rings that aired right after Gabby Douglas received her Olympic gold medal.
The commercial was an Olympic-themed ad for the upcoming NBC comedy “Animal Practice” and was specifically timed to run Thursday night after the women’s individual all-around gymnastics competition, the Associated Press reported. Just before the broadcast cut to commercial, NBC’s Bob Costas commented that Douglas — the first black woman to win the Olympic title — might serve as a role model for future generations.
“Much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas,” Costas said. “Also safe to say that there are some young African-American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, `Hey, I’d like to try that, too.'”
NBC then went to the commercial featuring a small, grinning monkey on the rings. “Monkey” is considered a common slur against blacks.
“Gabby Douglas’ gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement,” NBC Universal spokeswoman Liz Fischer said, according to the AP. “The spot promoting `Animal Practice,’ which has run three times previously, is one in a series with an Olympic theme, which have been scheduled for maximum exposure. Certainly no offense was intended.”
NBC has been hit with heavy criticism for its Olympics coverage, tape-delaying for hours some of the most popular events for its primetime programming.
As SB Nation observed: “Not NBC’s finest moment, certainly. But in their defense, they did have hours and hours to ensure that this would not happen. You know, because all of their primetime stuff airs in tape delay in every time zone. You may have heard about that.”
It’s also not the first time NBC has had trouble with an Olympics commercial this week: The AP noted it aired a “Today” show spot showing swimmer Missy Franklin with her first gold medal right before showing the actual race where she won it.