The Black voice in marketing has always been a huge factor in companies marketing strategies even though it may seem like our voice is often missing in mainstream outlets. As someone who is a consistent browser of social media and stays abreast of the information circulating around our culture, I’ve noticed many controversial ads in the media. The most recent Shea Moisture, Pepsi, Cheerio’s, H & M and Marc Jacobs ads, for example have triggered mixed responses from viewer’s, ranging from praise to backlash.
The presence of Black people or lack thereof in commercials draws much debate on the subject. A while back, a Cheerios commercial was released and lead to heated discussions about interracial families. The ad opened with a white mother speaking to her biracial daughter. The child then runs to her father who is a black man. The commercial received both positive and negative responses. Personally, I loved the commercial and found it enlightening because this had been the first time I’d seen an interracial family on television.
Additionally, there are some commercials that draw harsher criticism for placing black people or the plight of black people in awkward situations. Where are the people who would highly discourage these controversies and or save potentially their companies time and face with their customer base? If you support diversity then you should have diverse marketing and a Public Relations panel who will represent your customer base. These advertising companies should be more conscientious of the content they produce and the messages behind them. We continuously tolerate ads that make a play at us, not at all acknowledging our value or the value of our money. These ads are put together in less than thirty seconds without any given thought, only to see later an apology issued because of a poorly thought out ad.
I often wonder, if invited to assist with these ads, would black people be whistle blowers? Perhaps we are being too sensitive. The idea behind the Shea Moisture ad was to promote unity and inclusiveness. The commercial seemed to level the playing field of what black and white women go through regarding hair hate. Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Similarly, the Pepsi commercial eluded to the idea that a soda between a group of protesters and police officers would solve the bigger issues at hand. Easy enough. Marc Jacobs tried to rename Bantu Knots then defend what he didn’t see as cultural appropriation because black women straighten their hair. Maybe he loved Bantu Knots so much that he wanted to use them and not give credit where it’s due.
Many of these big marketing companies utilize YouTuber’s and bloggers to advertise their brands. Some of those individuals are black people yet, we still see these ads and YouTuber’s being placed in unfitting positions to either defend the brand or make a statement and run the risk of losing their sponsorship. At the end of the day, the black dollar holds a lot of value and when that leaves, so will the money. The best way to prevent this from happening is if we have the right people in power, making all the right decision’s.
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