Tag Archives: advertising

Ching, Chong, and Little Change

by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

To commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it seems appropriate to note the debate ignited by Chicago Sun-Times advertising columnist Lewis Lazare. The writer recently criticized a new commercial for Quiznos starring an Asian American woman working at a Laundromat. Created by Cliff Freeman Advertising, it can be viewed at the Quiznos website. In the spot, the old woman eats a $5 bill; plus, she appears to be in the throes of dementia as she gazes adoringly at her Quiznos sandwich.

“Cliff Freeman takes sandwich war too far by demeaning Asian Americans,” read Lazare’s headline. “To say the commercial insults Asian Americans is a massive understatement.”

A few days later, Lazare published the following reactions to his perspective:

You are right about the Quiznos spot. The Six Flags ad is even more stupid and offensive to Asian Americans. —Mike Kocher

I thought the commercial was an attempt to be funny. You review the same type of ads with young white guys doing stupid antics and don’t mention anyone being insulted. Can’t Asian Americans act stupid to get laughs? —Michael Schimp Continue reading

Is Adweek Culturally Weak?

by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

Way back in Essay Fourteen (March 2005), MultiCultClassics noted DiversityInc.com called out Advertising Age and Adweek for the publications’ lack of minority representation in editorial content. Why, MultiCultClassics even generously offered suggestions in Essay Seventeen.

Since then, Advertising Age has shown dramatic progress. The enterprise has provided consistent, detailed reporting on diversity-related issues, covered multicultural marketing and launched The Big Tent blog.

Adweek, on the other hand, hasn’t done shit. In fact, parent company VNU even dumped Marketing y Medios, a leading source for news on Latino marketing.

When others spotlighted the dealings between Madison Avenue and New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, Adweek was conspicuously absent. The New York Times’ Stuart Elliot and Advertising Age recently ran stories on the agencies’ alleged progress, and once again, Adweek was nowhere to be seen. This week, Elliott and Ad Age mentioned the “major new initiative that will specifically address the dearth of African-American executives” presented at the 4As Leadership Conference. Adweek didn’t bother typing a sentence about it.

Is Adweek lazy, culturally clueless, racist, too White or just plain irrelevant? Probably all of the above.

But since the magazine is no longer a weekly, and there appears to be no effort to generate more inclusive content, perhaps it should be officially renamed Adwhite.

Old Navy – Nina Keita

by Guest Contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

I’d noticed these Old Navy ads a few days ago. First because the dark skinned model in the ads, Nina Keita, has been featured in quite a few Old Navy ads recently and second, because her “love interest” in the ad is white.

I guess I’m so accustomed to seeing these types of ads go in a different direction that changing it up a bit immediately transforms me into a deer-in-the-headlights.

Ordinarily, this type of commercial would usually show the group of young white women (with their one black friend) flirting with a groups of white guys (and their one black friend) at a mall or amusement park. The end of the ad would show everyone matched up by race having a great time sharing fountain drinks.

I always thought that this set up put way too much pressure of the black friends. What if they didn’t like each other? What if one of them was gay? Clearly, these were the only two black people in town. How was it that they were only just now meeting one another? Good Lord, what if they were related? Would their white friends care? Did anyone even bother to ask them how they felt about not being given a choice?

I’ve read many a designer complain that if they use a black or other non-white model in an ad or on the runway, then the consumer will pay more attention to the model than the product.

I think this is only partially true. I always pause at a ad with a person of color partly because of the rarity of black models in national campaigns but when I do I always note who is producing the ad. I can’t watch Nina Keita stroll around town in that Old Navy green tube dress without wondering how it would look on my body. On the flip side, models like Jessica Stam, Kate Moss and Gisele appear in so many similar advertisements that I’d be hard pressed to tell any of the campaigns apart.

How exactly does that work in the designer’s favor?

Fast Company: Latina Marketing Maven Ignores Stereotypes, Turns Profit

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Fast Company recently profiled Alicia Morga, founder and CEO of online-marketing firm Consorte Media.

The opening paragraphs of the article reveal exactly what is wrong with the advertising industry:

Every marketer, pollster, and advertiser knows this much about Hispanics living in the United States: They are deeply family oriented, and their families are big. So when Alicia Morga, founder and CEO of the Hispanic-focused online-marketing firm Consorte Media, first started working with ad agencies on home-financing campaigns, she was told to use cheery images of happy, home-owning families. Problem: “The pictures of the big, brown family turned out to be the lowest-performing creative among Hispanics,” Morga says with a laugh. “By far.” What worked instead were simple shots of well-kept homes with white fences and lush lawns. “It’s aspirational,” she explains. Who knew?

Anyone who bothered to think outside the caja would know–and Morga does. In less than two years, she and Consorte Media have changed the thinking on how to find Hispanic Web surfers in the United States and convert them into customers, replacing the stereotypes that often typify minority-targeted marketing with insights gleaned from rigorous data collection and analysis. And she has built a business that’s already profitable, scored big-name clients including Best Buy and Monster.com, and completed two rounds of venture funding worth $10 million. Her secret: “Data works. There’s too much of the anecdotal in this marketplace.”

I am not sure why marketers want to overolook things that are fairly obvious. Perhaps it is the need for quantifiable, packaged data. I used to work for a market research aggregator and some of the reports that came across my desk for loading were sketchy, at best. Much of the research targeting specific ethnic/racial/gender/age demographics were heavily biased, used to essentially justify pre-existing stereotypes.

A coworker and I occassionally amused ourselves by opening some of the reports and laughing about what the researchers said our demographic wanted. Apparently, according to an older report targeting the African-American market, I am supposed to be single, very religious, overweight, and respond well to food images and church choirs. I guess that’s what the deal was with this Nivea ad. Continue reading

New Hermes campaign shows desi model in her native (colonized) habitat

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

It was just Thursday when we wondered why fashion designers and editors don’t seem to be able to use models of color without exoticizing/exploiting their race or culture. And last summer, we discussed Vogue’s obsession with romanticizing colonized Africa and Asia.

Folks at Hermes must have been reading closely because they managed to squeeze both blunders into a single ad campaign.

Check out their new ads, featuring desi model Lakshmi Menon. And lo and behold, what else appears in the ads? Elephants! With colorful henna-esque tattoos! And jodhpurs! Lest we forget the glorious days of British colonial rule in India!

See the rest of the ads here. Via FabSugar.

New Vivienne Westwood ads feature black model, but with what message?

by guest contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

Last season Vivienne Westwood raised a few eyebrows when she publicly lambasted fashion editors, calling them racist for refusing to use black models on their pages. Westwood even went as far as to call for an affirmative action of sorts, to force editors to use a certain percentage of black models. Later, she also spoke of her upcoming ads which would feature the beautiful Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana, no stranger to Westwood’s runway, as the face of the Spring campaign.

I was impressed with Westwood’s willingness to speak so openly about what we’ve all been decrying for years and looked forward to seeing the new ads with Ajuma (whom I think is one of the most stunning models to emerge in the last few years.) In my view, the grande dame could have just as easily said nothing, accepted the status quo, and had another cup of tea.

Well, low and behold, the ads have finally made their way into fashion magazines and sadly, I am not impressed. Westwood’s ads are usually on the fringe but seeing Ajuma posing with a spear and gun in a series of ads that also includes African masks, animal corpses and even bananas is crossed the line from provocative to stereotypical and wholly unnecessary.

Is it a political message? I don’t know. Shot by Juergen Teller, they are certainly eye-catching. Nasenyana’s dark shiny skin absorbs ever bit of the stark white background. In one, Ajuma wears a yellow and green dress reminiscent of the plumage of an exotic bird while holding a machine gun. In spite of the dress, Ajuma, with her closely cropped hair and somewhat androgynous appearance, could easily be mistaken for a young boy, or more aptly, a child soldier, much like the ones who are all too often shown on the evening news or in documentaries on Africa’s war torn regions. Is this ‘empowerment’ or is Westwood alluding to the ‘force’ she wants used to put models like Ajuma on the pages of Vogue and Elle?

Another image show Ajuma standing behind an armchair, casually holding the hand of a casually seated white male model who is also holding a gun while yet another has her alone, holding a spear.

Maybe it’s just my own irritation at this subject but I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if say Gisele or Kate Moss were photographed in this ‘safari chic’ manner nearly every time they appeared in an ad or editorial. Or better yet, as cavewomen? Wouldn’t it be promptly dismissed as tiresome or unoriginal? I have honestly seen Ajuma, and other black models, used in this exploitative manner dozens and dozens of times.

Where fashion used to be a fun past-time for me, it has now become repetitive and tiresome.

I’ve posted before about the refusal of some fashion photographers to view black female models as anything but an exotic other, to be dressed up in feathers or pelts to exploit their racial origins. To see this trend continued into yet another decade is troubling. Haven’t we made any progress?

As for Dame Westwood, to her I would say that although I appreciate her support of the struggle, maybe next time she should just send a check.

Photo source: BerlinRocks!/TFS