More marketers are creating messaging that’s in tune with trends of non-Hispanic whites and LGBT lifestyles.
While some brands have long painted a portrait of the U.S. as a society that’s both equal and inclusive, the mere existence of a multicultural marketing industry seems to suggest otherwise. Now, as America’s population grows ever more racially diverse—non-Hispanic whites are on track to become a minority group in the next three decades—as well as more accepting of LGBT lifestyles, more marketers are creating messaging that’s in tune with these trends, and perhaps a more accurate reflection of America in 2014.
Such messaging was in evidence during the Super Bowl, from two iconic American brands. General Mills cereal brand Cheerios introduced a sequel spot to a controversial ad from last summer that showed a black father, white mother and their biracial child—reflecting findings from the 2010 Census that America has seen a big jump in interracial couples. And Coca-Cola’s minute-long “America Is Beautiful” commercial featured Americans from various racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as an interracial gay family, singing “America the Beautiful” in seven languages. Both ads met with some push-back on social media and elsewhere, with a few critics even vowing to boycott the brands in question.
Coke defended its ad by calling it “a great example of the magic that makes our country so special, and a powerful message that spreads optimism, promotes inclusion and celebrates humanity—values that are core to Coca-Cola.” Optimism and inclusion are also core values among Millennials, as savvy brands like Coke, Cheerios and Procter & Gamble—which depicts an interracial family in an ad for Swiffer—well understand. “The reality is that Millennials are mystified by the ethnic and sexual-orientation prejudices that dogged their parents,” says advertising professor Brian Sheehan in Variety.
Those attitudes mean greater consumer appreciation for inclusive efforts. Vanity Fair has garnered tremendous praise for finally featuring a more multiracial array of actors on the cover of its annual “New Hollywood” issue, as has AT&T for its condemnation of Russia’s anti-gay stance. Marketers will be increasingly willing to risk alienating some older consumers by moving away from a more segmented approach and instead celebrating our differences or simply being matter-of-fact about them.
Image credit: Politicus USA