Ads are increasingly likely to be racially integrated. Recently some advertisers have begun breaking the taboo against suggesting interracial attraction. For example, furniture retailer Ikea ran a TV commercial showing an interracial couple shopping for a "daddy chair" and discussing their plans to conceive73 (Exhibit 22-13). Advertisers are also finding that advertising developed specifically for the African-American market, such as the Head & Shoulders ad shown in Exhibit 22-14 is an effective way of reaching this ethnic market. A recent study by Corliss L. Green found that ads targeting African-Americans through racially targeted media, especially with race-based products, benefit from featuring African-American models with a dominant presence in the ad.74
Another minority group that has received attention recently from those researching advertising and stereotyping is Asian-Americans, whose affluence, high education, work ethic, and growth rate has made this group a popular target market. A recent study of prime-time TV
Belch: Advertising and I VII. Special Topics and I 22. Evaluating the Social, I I © The McGraw-Hill
Promotion, Sixth Edition Perspectives Ethical, & Economic Companies, 2003
Aspects of Advtising & Promotion commercials found that Asian male and female models are overrepresented in terms of their proportion of the U.S. population (3.6 percent), appearing in 8.4 percent of the commercials. However, Asian models were more likely than members of other minority groups to appear in background roles, and Asian women were rarely depicted in major roles. The study also found that portrayals of Asian-Americans put more emphasis on the work ethic and less on other aspects of their lives.75
There is little question that advertising has been guilty of stereotyping women and ethnic groups in the past and, in some cases, still does so. But as the role of women changes, advertisers are changing their portrayals to remain accurate and appeal to their target audience. Advertisers are also trying to increase the incidence of minority groups in ads while avoiding stereotypes and negative role portrayals. They are being careful to avoid ethnic stereotyping and striving to develop advertising that has specific appeals to various ethnic groups.
Other Groups While the focus here has been on women and ethnic minorities, some other groups feel they are victims of stereotyping by advertisers. Many groups in our society are battling against stereotyping and discrimination, and companies must consider whether their ads might offend them. It is increasingly difficult not to offend some segment of the public. Creative personnel in agencies are feeling restricted as their ideas are squelched out of concern that they might offend someone or be misin-terpreted.76 However, advertisers must be sensitive to the portrayal of specific types of people in their ads, for both ethical and commercial reasons.
One area where significant changes have taken place recently is in advertising targeted to gay consumers. In 1995 Ikea broke new ground with a TV commercial featuring a gay couple shopping for furniture. For years beer companies targeted this market by placing ads in local gay media to support or sponsor AIDS awareness, Gay Pride festivals, and the Gay Games. However, a number of beer companies, including Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Co., now run gay-specific, brand-specific ads in national gay publications.77
A number of other companies, including IBM and United Airlines, also now run ads with gay themes, although they generally confine them to magazines and newspapers targeting the gay market. While a TV commercial or print ad with a gay reference occasionally runs in the mainstream media, it usually is so subtle or ambiguous that many heterosexuals do not perceive it as a gay message. However, in 2000 the Gay Financial Network, an online company (gfn.com) with a gay-friendly financial news and information website, became the first gay-oriented company to advertise in major U.S. business news and entertainment publications.78 The gfn.com ads take a gentle swipe at homophobia in the business world (Exhibit 22-15).
More advertisers are turning to gay themes in their mainstream commercials, though often subtly. However, few run these ads on network television; they limit them to spot TV and local stations in more gay-friendly cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The Miller Brewing Co. did take a bold step recently by airing a gay-themed commercial on network television. The ad was for Miller Lite beer and showed a gay couple holding hands in a straight bar to the dismay of two women who are interested in them.79
Advertising and the Media The fact that advertising plays such an important role in financing the media has led to concern that advertisers may influence or even control the media. It is well documented that economic
Exhibit 22-15 The Gay
Financial Network broke barriers by becoming the first gay-oriented company to advertise in the mainstream media
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Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.