A production company figures out how to hit multiple demographics with one spot and they get accused of moralizing.
Regardless of intent, commercials are defining ‘normal’ for our future generations.
Uhhh … I had no idea. What should I do now?
Maybe us old people need an official list of banned words???
Does it matter if I am queer???
They aren’t making these changes to push a social agenda. Rather, the people they are targeting with the ad prefer to see ads presented this way and find them more appealing. Ads typically target people in the 18-35 demographic. The younger generation is much less concerned about rigid racial and sexual boundaries, and their relationships reflect that. The farther you are from that demographic, the less you will relate to the typical ad.
As much as “racist” seems like it would more appropriately only refer to people who believe in the inherent differences (and, often implicitly, the inherent superiority or inferiority of) what are actually socially constructed races with no real underlying basis, I think that ship has sailed already in common usage.
However, I still occasionally see pushback against using “racism” in an even broader context to describe ethnic bigotry that does not conform to what the speaker considers “races”, which seems sort of silly. The difference between racism and other types of ethnic discrimination are not worth quibbling about in my opinion, so I am fine with using either term interchangeably even when the “race” affected is, for instance, Jewish people.
Tell you what, lets take it here as someone started a thread on it:
Questions about moderation do not belong in the thread itself but in ATMB.
I’ve noticed the mixed-couples, it doesn’t ‘bother me’, but I am impressed how much and how fast this has happened. I sometimes wonder how they decide how to target people suffering from anxiety and depression (besides tired looking middle class white women). I notice also the Gerber baby now has what I assume is a ‘single mother’ and a lot more of gay women couples in commercials. I used to listen to talk radio years ago and one of them (maybe Sally Jessy Raphael) said something about how interesting so many of the callers were, so varied, ‘all part of the rich tapestry of life’..
I wonder if ESG criteria have anything to do with it.
ESG stands for environmental, social and corporate governance, in which “social” covers equal-opportunity employment; diversity, equity and inclusion; etc. In recent years, ESG compliance has become an important issue for many companies.
This. Ads are following the market, not leading the market. Having all-white commercials would be pushing a social agenda.
The other side of diverse casting in ads is that it’s building up a larger pool of non-white actors. Ads are the bottom-rung of professional acting and by employing a more diverse cast here, it’s giving more people a chance to make it big.
More over the top then when there was little to no mixed-race representation, or less?
That’s certainly a positive effect, but it’s not a decision driver. To your first point, advertisers follow the market. I think people who are in the majority might feel it’s unrepresentative because ‘most people I know are white/straight/married/able-bodied’ but if you’re an advertiser filming maybe 2 TV ads a year, with one family in each, that’s not an awfully large cast in order to best represent your audience. Do you only include white people because they’re the majority?
We also shouldn’t forget allyship - I see it strongly amongst my younger colleagues. They might be straight/white etc themselves, but they respond positively to companies that embrace diversity. And they are the customers the ad people are often going after.
So naturally, there’s an imbalance - we see more mixed race couples and gay families than might appear in every day life. I’m still not seeing the problem.
It might play a small part, but amongst my larger corporate clients (the sort with TV advertising cash to spend), they are focusing on diversity because it’s good for business - attractive to new customers, and attractive to potential talent.
One other benefit of diversity is that it makes it look like the product is for everyone rather than just one demographic. If the commercial features only people of a single race, people not of that race won’t necessary think the ad is targeted to them. But if the ad has a large variety of races in it, it makes the ad look like it’s targeted to everyone. Even if you don’t see your specific race in the ad, the variety of races makes the ad more inclusive to everyone.
Someone earlier mentioned that if the couple were Black, then it might be seen as only marketing to Black people, and, as much as I’m loathe to admit it, that’s probably how I would have seen it. Using a white couple would be seen as marketing to anyone, and a Black or queer couple would have been seen has marketing a specific demographic.
However, now that commercials are using all kinds of combinations, I certainly see those marketing pitches differently. A Black or gay couple with a kid at breakfast would be seen (by me, anyway) as marketing a breakfast thing, probably for families, not something for Black or gay people. It’s like a benevolent conspiracy among ad agencies or something – show all combos randomly and no combos mean anything specific.
There are even those commercials (one for jewelry, and another one, maybe for a car?) that blast through a whole bunch of couples at the end, showing lots of combinations – hey, this is for you, too!
ETA: @filmore said it much more succinctly than I did.
Keep in mind that a large company doesn’t just make an ad and throw it onto the televisions of the world. They (and their ad agency) will write/rewrite/storyboard/cast/shoot test footage/re-cast, etc.
And there’s testing at each stage, including focus groups of typical consumers giving their opinions. If you see an ad with a mixed-race couple, chances are multiple groups of people responded more positively to that.
If the advertiser is big enough, they’ll even do A/B testing: shoot two or more commercials, run them in similar markets, and see where sales go up, and where they don’t.
“So, Mr. Tate, in Kalamazoo… the commercial with the all-white family eating breakfast, sales matched the usual numbers. But in Wauwatosa, with the Hispanic dad, the Asian mom, the Jewish grandmother, and the cute-but-ethnically-ambiguous twin girls… sales doubled! So that’s great… sorry, you wanted to know about the commercial we shot using your family? Well, that resulted in everyone swearing off breakfast completely.”
I haven’t watched TV in decades, so I have no idea what’s going on with the commercials. Having said that… on the one hand, I think it’s wrong for a network or advertiser to have “rules” for what ethnicities can and can’t be shown. That in itself seems bigoted, if not racist. On the other hand, I welcome more diversity, and thus welcome more interracial couples in commercials.
Don’t worry there are still plenty of white people in commercials.
In the UK at least, that has gone completely. There is a current ad featuring a teenage boy putting his own clothes in a washing machine and another with the male partner vacuuming.
As I remarked previously, all this is a GOOD thing as it normalises these situations and relationships.
Whew! Thank God straight white males like myself are finally getting some airtime.
Remember, the only “rule” advertisers care about is “do whatever increases our sales”.
If commercials nowadays are showing more ethnic and cultural diversity in families and communities than they used to, it’s because the people paying for the commercials think that that will play well with audiences.
And doubtless some of them are hoping to get free advertising from a potential “Cheerios scenario” where a bunch of regressive bigots embarrass themselves by making a big public fuss about Company X’s racially diverse commercials, and most of the viewing audience gets disgusted by the regressive bigots and then goes out and buys Company X’s product as a gesture of solidarity with the non-bigot community.
Ironically, but very predictably, all the ad designers hoping for a publicity windfall from regressive bigots freaking out about their diverse and inclusive commercials are just contributing to the social normalization of diverse and inclusive representation in the culture. So pretty soon even most regressive bigots will forget that they ever thought diverse and inclusive commercials were in any way novel or shocking, and will have no interest anymore in making any big public fuss about them.