If you want to hear straight talk about race, ethnicity, and cultural stereotypes in America, look to the advertising community. They know what sells. To black people! To Latinos! To gays! If stereotypes are true, ads will prove it.
(The above paragraph is not sarcastic!). The job of ad people is to sell, and therefore, rather than get caught up in a discussion of, say, whether a chihuahua mascot for Taco Bell is somehow offensive, they're going to look at whether it helps to sell tacos. Because guess what, America: if it sells tacos, then I guess Americans don't feel so strongly about it that their objections to it would prevent them from buying tacos. In this way, successful advertising speaks for itself. Ad Age looks at the intricacies of marketing to several different demographic groups this week. Watch and learn.
HOW TO SELL TO BLACK PEOPLE: The stereotypical "hip hop black guy" market is oversaturated. Sell to other segments, and reap the rewards.
"About 71% of black births in the U.S. are to single mothers," said Pepper Miller of the Hunter Miller Group, a market research group specializing in African-American consumers. "These mothers believe they are different from white mothers — they believe they get less support from the family of the baby's father than a single white mother. They also believe they are stereotyped as welfare queens and that they do not raise well-behaved children. This is an opportunity for advertisers to create a relationship with her, to tell her story and to connect with her, to make her feel important and relevant."
In other words, just because she feels different doesn't mean an advertiser can't make her feel special.
HOW TO SELL TO IMMIGRANTS: Wait a generation. Then sell their kids the same generic American shit you sell everyone else.
Hispanic actress Jessica Alba is a good example. When a reporter asked her a question in Spanish on the red carpet of an awards ceremony, this granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant had to admit she couldn't speak the language.
HOW TO SELL TO SINGLE PEOPLE: Cater to their fantasies. More people than ever are single these days. And everyone is...in their own imagination.
Beauty products, for example, are "purposely nebulous about marital status," said Denise Fedewa, an exec VP-strategy director at Leo Burnett. That's because married or not, when a woman is dressing up to go out, "I think she always goes back to that vision of herself as that 25-year-old single woman," she said.
HOW TO SELL TO GAYS: Sure, you want to be politically gay-friendly. But remember: decor trumps everything.
I want to believe in [Sears Holdings] which scores 100 from HRC. So when Kurt and I stopped shopping at Target, we paid our first visit in years to the local Kmart.
What a letdown. The aging store was dingy and depressing. It looked like Sears Holdings Chairman Edward Lampert had not bothered to invest a dime in that store... Kmart won't be the new gay-mart.
Stereotypes: they're kind of about you.
[Photo by Andresr/Shutterstock.com]