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don’t let your
commercials
look like a
health textbook.
the ultimate pocket guide for agencies
presented by Cheryl Faux
don’t let your commercials look like a
health textbook.
presented by Cheryl Faux
AUTHOR’S NOTE
PAST
PRESENT
FUTURE
5 STEPS
table of
contents
6
8
12
16
20
I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way my
commercial will look like a health textbook.
I’m cool, my agency’s cooler,...
PAST
the past
The conventional story about minorities in advertising goes
something like this:
In the bad old days, before the ...
PRESENT
the
present
VISUAL ‘DIVERSITY’
Despite the amazing strides and progress we’ve made to stay
away from stereotypes, it seems...
FUTURE
"Going forward, all
advertising is
going to be
multicultural by
definition,
because in most
states, majority
ethnic popula...
5 STEPS
1. think about
hegemony
2. producer’s intent
vs culture
Hegemony describes the dominance of a culturally
diverse society b...
4. think niche3. casting, casting,
casting
Once you’ve got a concept – and you made sure it
doesn’t support negative hegem...
5. review & then
review again
Did anyone second guess
your initial idea?
Is it supporting or fighting
current hegemonic
st...
Don't Let Your Commercials Look Like A Health Textbook
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Don't Let Your Commercials Look Like A Health Textbook

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Last semester, I took Culture, Race & Media and for our final, we were asked to create something for our industry that related back to the class. I made a pocket guide for agencies filled with tips on how to add more diversity into their work.

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Don't Let Your Commercials Look Like A Health Textbook

  1. 1. don’t let your commercials look like a health textbook. the ultimate pocket guide for agencies presented by Cheryl Faux
  2. 2. don’t let your commercials look like a health textbook. presented by Cheryl Faux
  3. 3. AUTHOR’S NOTE PAST PRESENT FUTURE 5 STEPS table of contents 6 8 12 16 20
  4. 4. I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way my commercial will look like a health textbook. I’m cool, my agency’s cooler, and even my client’s cool.” This is not to make you feel uncomfortable or say that your work is racist. This is a proactive measure I created because times are changing and if agencies can’t keep up, people will continue to hate advertising. And I want a job when I graduate so... Remember your high school years? Sitting in health class wishing you were at home playing Mario Kart on your ‘64 (or pong – depending on age). Now think to your textbook. The teens all throughout the book smiling and laughing with one another even though the page they’re on was about Gonorrhea or teen pregnancy. Now think about those teens races. This might be a little tough, but think about it. Probably a bunch of white boys and girls with the token minorities. It’ll usually be 1 or 2 – sometimes 3 if you had a progressive book. And whether they were African American, Asian, or Latino they all served the same purpose, to make sure the book was inclusive and connected with minority students. Now think back to all the commercials you’ve seen – maybe even created – with the 1 or 2 minorities purely there to make up for the lack of diversity. This pocket guide will help you never make that mistake. Cheryl Faux this is not an expert guide. I’m just a regular ‘ol college student with a passion for proper representation for minorities. this is a serious guide meant to educate agency folks on a major issue that’s commonly overlooked. 7
  5. 5. PAST
  6. 6. the past The conventional story about minorities in advertising goes something like this: In the bad old days, before the civil rights movement, minorities seldom appeared in mainstream media advertising. But the 1960s brought awareness and sensitivity, as well as desegregation. Since then, minorities have taken their place alongside whites in the integrated world of advertising. A lot of those ads used to better connect minorities with brands were filled with stereotypes to really send the message to consumers that they were being spoken to. For example, the ads on the right were created by Burrell for McDonald’s in the 60’s and 70’s. For most people, this was the first time they were seeing themselves in advertising. Back in that time, most blacks were happy to be recognized as thinking human beings after over 300 years of being caricatured as non-people. For minorities who had been so invisible for so many years, to look and say “I see myself on that screen” was extremely significant. 1110
  7. 7. PRESENT
  8. 8. the present VISUAL ‘DIVERSITY’ Despite the amazing strides and progress we’ve made to stay away from stereotypes, it seems that we’ve moved backward. Currently, a lot of ads are featuring minorities as visual ‘diversity’. The exact opposite of a racial stereotype, visual diversity is when a commercial white washes a person of color. There’s a difference between portraying a culture and a stereotype– there’s also a difference between genuinely showing an individual’s personality and treated people of color as white people with no distinct culture (think health textbook). MULTICULTURAL ECONOMY The reason there’s such a big rush to include more minorities in ads is because of what the Selig Center for Economic Growth is calling ‘The Multicultural Economy’. In the days when “Mammy” Aunt Jemima was selling pancakes, advertisers were aiming for the “general market” (code for white consumers). That’s because at the time, white consumers held most of the buying power in the country. As the nation’s demographics shifted and grew over the past couple years, so did that exchange of power. • In 2014, the Hispanic market was larger than the economy of all but 15 countries in the world at $1.3 trillion1 • Black buying power has seen an 86% increase since 2000 and accounts for 8.7% of the nation’s total2 • Asian buying power is expected to grow to $1 trillion in 20193 1-3. Selin Center for Economic Growth: http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/multicultural-econo- my-report-2014/ Ever see a schoolyard filled with white, Asian and black teens playing? Or middle aged white and Latino men drinking beer and watching the Super Bowl on their black neighbor's couch? Or Asians and Latinos dancing the night away in a hip-hop club? Today, all it takes is a television. Ads, TV shows and movies are now recognizing the new cultural mainstream that prizes diversity, a recognition that we are fast approaching a day when the minority becomes the majority. The Make Love campaign by Gap is a great example of showing different cultures and people mixing in an authentic way. 14 15
  9. 9. FUTURE
  10. 10. "Going forward, all advertising is going to be multicultural by definition, because in most states, majority ethnic populations will no longer exist." Danny Allen, managing director at SENSIS Danny Allen, managing director at SENSIS, a multicultural agency in Los Angeles said, “Going forward, all advertising is going to be multicultural by definition, because in most states, majority ethnic populations will no longer exist.” That means at some point no single race or culture will be the majority. That’s huge news, but if you were to turn on your TV, you wouldn’t even guess it because of the lack of equal representation. White people have the greatest chance of any ethnic group of seeing themselves at work, the grocery store, church, on the street, at the doctor’s office, etc. Without representation of all races, genders, sexes, sexualities, body types, etc., there are stories that we are missing. Without equal representation, there are people who are not feeling heard or seen. In a nation and world as diverse and complex as ours, the last thing we want is to lose the stories of a large portion of our people. And I think that’s why I initially started this pocket guide. To jump start the conversation and help agencies move in the right direction to make sure voices and sto- ries are accurately being portrayed. the future 18
  11. 11. 5 STEPS
  12. 12. 1. think about hegemony 2. producer’s intent vs culture Hegemony describes the dominance of a culturally diverse society by a ruling class, who manipulates the culture of the society. The beliefs, perceptions, and values of the ruling class are imposed and accepted. In the Hunger Games, the Capitol, the ruling class, have imposed their belief that the games is good on all the other districts, despite how much people hate it. It wasn’t until Katniss decided there should be no Victors if there can’t be two that she really started to fight hegemony. In a world where more and more people are getting educated on these type of systems and how it affects their life, making sure your work isn’t supporting hegemonic standards is very important. Because it’s much easier to scrap a concept vs a commercial that tanks because people hate it, steps 1 and 2 are critical in the early stages of building a campaign. Time and time and time and time and time and time again, there seems to be a brand apologizing for having offensive work. Sometimes I feel bad for them because I know they didn’t mean any harm, but I have a background in advertising, so my ‘lens’ on ads is different from the general public. Everyone in the world has a lens. Depending on where you live, your status, race, gender, age, etc., your lens on the world is going to be unique from others. I’m a 21 year old African American woman raised in Georgia from a single parent household studying advertising. I have friends with the same exact background as me, but they don’t study advertising. Just that one simple difference makes me look at the world, and ads, differently. Because of lenses, you have to worry about how you would interpret your ad vs how society will interpret your ads. In semiotics, this is called the Producer’s Intent. In semiotics, language is a system of signs – words, images, sounds, etc. – that function within a language to help us communicate. There are the signs you visually, the signs the producer’s want you to see, and the signs you and/or culture sees. While you and your co-workers think an idea is great, it could very well have racist tones. To combat this, try analyzing your work from a variety of different lenses. 22 23
  13. 13. 4. think niche3. casting, casting, casting Once you’ve got a concept – and you made sure it doesn’t support negative hegemonic standards and/or your intent matches up with culture – it’s time to move on to production. Everyone knows humans are visual creatures. That’s why commercials are so important when it comes to. And to make a great commercial, you need great talent. Whether you’re shooing a toilet paper or a Nike commercial casting will always be critical in your story. With the right talent, you can connect and move a crowd. With the wrong talent (or poor decisions after hiring great talent), you can offend and alienate consumers. As I mentioned in ‘The Present’, one of the biggest issues with commercials today is visual diversity. People of color being white washed and given no distinct personality. When you’re casting minorities, pick the ones that are proud of who they are and want to help you in your mission. Pick the one that will tell you something’s offensive or gives suggestions on how they should act. If for whatever reason you’re not ‘up-to-date’ on how a certain group acts or looks, you might want to consider having real casting calls and bringing in a couple of people who actually live the life you want to portray in your commercial. Following casting, a suggestion to help you pick, dress, and direct talent is to think niche. When I saw niche, I don’t mean race, ethnicity, or even age. I’m talking interests and personalities. Personally, I’m a huge fan of niche targeting because when you know what niche you’re going after all you have to do is invest time and energy in that group to really understand who they are and how they want to be seen. Below are just a couple of niche lifestyles you may not have thought about. DIY Fashion Fiend #Knittaz (not real) Fit and Photogenic Craft Life 24
  14. 14. 5. review & then review again Did anyone second guess your initial idea? Is it supporting or fighting current hegemonic standards? Are there any stereotypes? Did you interpret how others may view it? Did someone with a different lens look at it? As I mentioned in Step 2, it’s very common for an agency’s ‘innocent joke’ or ‘parody’ get lost in translation from concept to when consumers interact with it. And that’s why it’s so incredibly important to get your work reviewed. And I’m not talking about the traditional review process where you pass it to your supervisor. I mean a quality control process dedicated to making sure it’s culturally acceptable with proper representation. Above is a Bloomingdale’s ad that caught a lot of flack for insinuating that it’s OK to drug people without their consent. Perhaps if the team (which I’m assuming is male) asked someone with a different lens in life (a female) to look at it they would have said, “wait a minute, I don’t know about this” and the issue would have never arisen. review checklist 26

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