Talking about racial identity and multiculturalism is trendy, and what good marketer doesn’t immediately exploit a trend to make a buck? Take a look at these three ads that incorporate interracial themes in the creative development of the ad for their client:
Starburst-Multiculturalism is the “punch-line” (by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York)
This ad builds an analogy of multiculturalism into the script, creating a direct parallel between the young man who is Scottish and Korean, with the new Starburst, which is Sweet and Sour. I might have changed the script a little (the ‘narrator’ says the mix doesn’t make any sense at all-I would have probably said it joins together for fantastic result or something like that 1.) because that’s the idea behind intercultural communications, and 2.) It would reflect better on my product. But I love the ‘bravery’ of embracing multicultural identity head-on.
Fruit by the Foot Flavor Kickers-Multiculturalism is the “medium”
This ad also subtly uses race to convey the meaning of the ad, by having two martial artists, one African-American and one Caucasian, in slow motion kicks to visually show “two kickin’ flavors.” Also notable is that neither ‘kicker’ is a stereotype (a la Jackie Chan or Jet Li) so that there is balance between the players-no one is ‘one-upping’ the other. I love this ad geared to children, given that so much of unconscious bias is driven by stereotypic representations of culture in media. Plus, the true test, my child loved the ad and we both can name the product three days later!
Taco Bell-Attempt at cross-cultural parody: been there, done that… (by Draftfcb)
An unidentified colleague who still works with artists had a phrase of “SFA”…”Some F—–g Artist.” He said that artists look at blocks of copy for ads as visual elements to place on a page, without regard to content. That seems to be the case with the Taco Bell ad, where there is so much focus on creating the parody that the message is lost. If the consumer doesn’t know the product and the call to action within 5 seconds, we’ve lost them. Plus, as seen from this posting on “Kiss My Black Ads” (where I found the ad), it could be offensive (or at least uncreative). Taco Bell’s own press release praises the campaign (duh!).
It would be great to immediately know the ROI for these ad campaigns, to see how multicultural ads, good ones, bad ones, or even benign ones might drive sales within existing customer-base, or possibly expand and drive new customers. Do awful ads based on stereotype drive sales with people who embrace the prejudice? Does the outrage or offense draw attention, which in the end just increases visibility? Can well done, respectful ads build community?