Tourism Poster That Put Jamaica on the Map Gets New Life

A screen grab from the Jamaica Tourist Board 1972 television commercial, featuring Sintra Bronte.

A screen grab from the Jamaica Tourist Board 1972 television commercial, featuring Sintra Bronte.

Back in 1972, a young Trinidadian model, Sintra Bronte, made Jamaica famous by posing in a wet t-shirt with the name of the island emblazoned across the front.

It was for a promotional poster for the country's tourist board, and it helped make Jamaica the go-to destination of the Caribbean at the time.

Now, the poster has been given new life thanks to American musician Alicia Keys recreating it and posting the image on Instagram, with the comment:

I always wanted to redo this 1972 classic! #funtimes

At the time of publishing, Keys’ post had garnered close to 100,000 “likes” and nearly 3,000 appreciative comments. Feedback from Jamaican netizens was also complimentary:

Some Twitter users were pleased that Sintra's original poster was experiencing a renaissance:

However, one blogger wasn't so sure — he had assumed, like many other Jamaicans, that the 1972 poster girl was indigenous:

Some 30+ years later, like the return of the ghost of yesterday’s past, the image is again being talked about. And it was through this buzz that I, like many other Jamaicans became aware of her name; Sintra Arunte-Bronte.

To my surprise and disappointment, she is not a Jamaican national. Disappointed, I say, because Jamaica has more than enough home grown models to choose from, but hey, reasons and politics behind that could be substantial.

The rationale for choosing Sintra over a Jamaican national was explained in this video featuring Anthony Abrahams, who was Jamaica's Director of Tourism from 1970-1975. He noted that at the time, there was a lot of interest in China. The advertising agency had originally pitched the idea of featuring a Jamaican girl of Chinese descent to illustrate that the exoticism of the Far East was also alive and well in Jamaica.

The casting effort didn't go well, however, so Sintra was put forward instead, and the rest is history.

The Sebastian Books blog post went on to claim that “the image is being talked about now because the Jamaican Tourist Board is considering an upgrade”.

There has been no confirmation that the Keys shoot was commissioned by the Jamaican government.

Still, the blogger maintains:

Pride should be taken from within, especially in a situation of a national photo-shoot; the use of models [of] external nationalities sends a bad message.

As for Sintra Bronte, she says she is flattered by the resurgence of attention surrounding the poster.

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