I don’t know if I was just being innocent or naive, but I thought that living in the 21st century (or 20th century if you’re Ryan Lochte) meant that racism, homophobia and sexism were social institutions confined to previous generations. However, prejudice seems like the ugly American wound that just won’t go away (once you think it’s healed, it bursts open again). While portrayals of modern lifestyles are popular in literature, film and television, advertising has been slow to create ads reflecting the modern American family (including biracial families or same-sex couples). However, in order to hit their audiences, advertisers need to “get updated.”
In the simplest of job descriptions, advertisers are responsible for reaching out to consumers—creating content that resonates/ reflects their targets. As the multicultural community continues to grow (by 2050, the U.S. won’t even have a racial majority), Americans are going to have to bury the bigot mentality for good. Diversity is the word, and respect is the answer.
On this Two-for –Tuesday, we’re highlighting two advertisements that feature “progressive” societal portrayals… and have received negative feedback because of it.
When General Mills released a Cheerios ad featuring a biracial family (kudos Cheerios), the brand received an overwhelmingly racist backlash from the public. Can people really not fathom the idea of people from different races, cultures or ethnicities creating a family? Apparently they’ve missed the fact that we’re not living in the 1960’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner era—we’ve progressed. In fact, the 2010 U.S. Census reported that nine million Americans self identify as two or more races. Why not create advertisements that resonate with them rather than ignore them? If nothing else, think of the children. The little girl featured in this advertisement is like millions of biracial American children—criticizing this type of family is detrimental to their human psyche. (Cough Maslow’s hierarchy of need, cough self-esteem).If America is likened to a proud melting pot, why not celebrate the truest embodiment of the analogy (aka biracial families), instead of criticizing it?
Anti-LGBT groups were quick to boycott Microsoft after the company featured a lesbian wedding in a recent ad. The “pro-Traditional marriage” groups threatened to take their business elsewhere if Microsoft didn’t stop promoting its “social agendas.” While new to the social tolerance/ acceptance table (when compared to biracial couples), the LGBT community has passionately fought for equal rights earning considerable momentum gains. ). However, social tolerance issues aside, 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage. Is it wise for advertisers to ignore this market? As Microsoft’s Outlook campaign says, “Get Updated.” It’s also worth mentioning, the Microsoft ad features “Can’t Hold Us,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (who penned possibly the greatest social commentary track of our generation, “Same Love”). Nordstrom’s also featured Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in an ad featuring same-sex couples.
Looking back on the criticism these ads received, what amazes me is the lines people create (versus advertisers) and then continue to read between. When advertisers add a biracial family or same-sex couple to their campaign, do they really have an “agenda” beyond marketing to a larger audience? I think not. But then again, I could just be innocent or naïve. In any light, advertisers who do their jobs well and seek to connect with culturally diverse audiences deserve praise for realizing the face of America is changing and demonstrating how their products/services fit into our modern world.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://wpmaster.sjadv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/02/Cassandra-Bremer-Our-Space-Photo-e1402061863316.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.[/author_info] [/author]