Daina’s Blog

…the thoughts of a modern day marketing student

Is it Appropriate to Stereotype in Advertising? December 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — dkazmaier @ 2:44 am
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I think we all do it – no matter what nationality, gender, whatever you are… stereotyping is so common in everyday life, we hardly notice we’re doing it. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. Since it happens daily, is it appropriate to use in advertising? Will stereotypes actually draw in the target audience through some sort of subliminal understanding?

An article posted on Media Awareness Network speaks of this issue: “Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in the advertising, entertainment and news industries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information. Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people – usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation” (Media Awareness Network n.d.). A very strong definition – but in what ways are stereotyping negative? The article goes on to note that stereotypes are very general – which is absolutely true – and it is not fair to generalize any group of people.

Consider ads done by companies such as McDonalds and KFC. A somewhat recent television spot promoting Kentucky Fried Chicken features a black family gathering around a kitchen table to enjoy their hot meal – minus a father. What is this trying to say… are single mothers common in this culture? I think that this commercial is extremely stereotypical and could be viewed as inappropriate; yes, I’m sure this case is true in many African American households…. JUST as it is true in white, Hispanic, Asian, etc. households.

Another article, “Who’s responsible for the racist stereotypes in advertising?”, posted on Racialicious.com (love the name), speaks of the images that relate to certain races. “The stereotypical images were not always stereotypical. In fact, the multicultural agencies invented most of them. When minority representation in the media was virtually non-existent, the multicultural shops unleashed relevant and authentic depictions of fill-in-the-minority life” (racialicious.com 2007). The article speaks of walking a fine line between being able to capture the targeted audience’s attention rather than just diving into the closed-minded stereotypes. This doesn’t necessarily just deal with race alone – it also relates to gender, age and virtually any other category that can be created. I suppose it’s a part of human nature to place people in such groups, but as a marketing professional, it is important to be able to take in the big picture – a well-rounded idea may have the best chance of capturing the attention of the targeted audience… and then some.




Marketing to Minorities is a Major Deal

Filed under: Uncategorized — dkazmaier @ 2:17 am
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Marketing to minorities is an essential element that every prmenthol02ofessional needs to consider; at a glance, “America’s Hispanic population is poised to become the single largest minority in the nation; there are 41.3 million Hispanics in the United States – or one in every seven people” (Hass 2007). Being bilingual is nearly a necessity in certain areas of the country, and as a marketing professional, it is ideal if all tactics appealed to a wide range of audiences. However, sometimes it is just as important to focus on one group in order to get the best possible message across.

After pondering how companies best market to minorities, the issue of ethics once again crossed my mind. It must be my conscience coming forth, but as I think about companies – tobacco companies, specifically – and how they push their products onto certain groups, it concerns me that sometimes marketing professionals go just a bit too far. According to an article posted on the American Heart Association Web site, the tobacco industry has upped their campaigns targeted to minorities during the last decade. I know that there are many rules and regulations regarding the advertisement of tobacco, and it is rare to come across an ad nowadays, but I suppose once people are hooked on the product, the need to push the drug decreases. Check this out – “according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 1996 smoking rates among African-American males had doubled within four years” (American Heart Association n.d.). Scary, no? These are young children and teens we are talking about here – the study was done with children as young as 14 to high school kids up to 18 years of age. “Former District of Columbia Health Commissioner Reed Tuckson defined the tobacco industry’s marketing practices as ‘the subjugation of people of color through disease’” (American Heart Association n.d.).  Honestly, I don’t know how marketers who dabble in tobacco advertising sleep at night.

On the other side of the fence, there are many campaigns directed towards minorities that have a much more positive light – take, for example, Walt Disney World. A classmate of mine wrote about this company in greater detail, and I found it interesting that the company offers a sister Web site that is completely in the Spanish language. This is extremely accommodating and will make first time travelers feel welcome. Said classmate also spoke of ethics in her post – here we go again – but it is a fine line we walk as marketing professionals, making sure all advertising tactics are honest an unoffending. Disney, to me, has always been ethical in a marketing sense… don’t get me started on the princesses though.

Hass, Werner. (2007). “Marketing to Minorities: The Hispanic Market”. Referenced December 15, 2008. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/197023/marketing_to_minorities.html