A Call-to-Action for Advertisers: Use Your Power for Good!
I strongly believe in the power of marketing.
It encourages us to try and buy new things.
It reminds us to do things that are good for us.
It creates a sense of aspiration to become better.
Most importantly – it influences popular culture and social norms.
You may scoff at the idea of marketing influencing our culture.
“Ads aren’t shaping us!!!”
Both advertising and entertainment serve as mirrors into our own slices of society and reflect what “normal” looks like, or should look like. (Some shows focus exclusively on what not-normal looks like à la Real Housewives of wherever.) As we watch TV, we receive messages about how our lives should look, we receive prompts to better ourselves, and we even get desensitized to things that may seem new or different to us.
An example: life at home with Alexa. Without advertising, we might find this new device too strange or too intrusive, and be unclear on what the benefit is to having one. Commercials help reflect what life can look like with Alexa, which begins to normalize it and makes us more receptive to buying one.
It’s not manipulation. It’s exposure.
My call to action here is for all advertisers.
Embrace the awesome power marketing wields to shape what we should see as normal. And that means – include more damn diversity in your ads please!
A shout-out to a few of the brands leading the charge in this area:
- Honey Maid’s “wholesome” ad features same-sex, punk rock, and interracial families.
- Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign has included women of all shapes, colors, ages, and sizes for years.
- University of Phoenix’s “We Rise” campaign tells stories of people overcoming challenges of immigration and prejudice.
- Amazon Prime’s ad features a Priest and an Imam – men of different religious faiths – as friends.
- CoverGirl is rocking it with a new model who wears a hijab and their first ever CoverBoy!
- Old Navy social media sales promotion features an interracial family.
- Ad Council’s “Love has no labels” and “#WeAreAmerica” ads are focused on shifting perspectives and attitudes on what love and America truly look like.
It is critical to do this.
Don’t worry about the haters – and yes, there will be haters. Every single one of the above advertisers has experienced backlash from these ads. But you must ignore them. Pissing off a few people (trust me – it won’t be your entire target audience) is a fine trade-off for more accurately representing the diversity of individuals that make up our world. Standing for something positive will produce even more loyal customers, and your company will be actively creating more openness and inclusiveness in society.
We must recognize that our country – our world – is composed of a huge variety of people, and it always has.
Our ads should reflect that.
Our ads should move our culture forward.
Our ads should be progressive.
Our ads should lead society towards greater acceptance and inclusion.
Our ads should – at the end of the day – remind us that we’re all human and we all have similar needs, wants, and aspirations.
For 2017, let’s set a resolution to include more diversity in all advertising. This is a call to action for anyone making ads, and most importantly, for those making the final casting decisions.
The power of marketing is great – let’s use it for good!
(shit, I almost wrote “let’s use it to make America great again”)
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