June 05, 2018

By Gonzalo López Martí - Creative director / LMMiami.com

  • Throughout my decades-long career in advertising I have strongly advocated once and again for the use of casts of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
  • Not because I am a progressive beacon of inclusivity (which I am, of course).
  • I want my clients to sell more products and services.
  • I want to make their cash registers ring.
  • If the demographic composition of the markets where they peddle their wares shows that non-euro centric complexions are the majority, then let’s cast talent with non-euro centric complexions, right?
  • Don’t be too sure.
  • It’s been tried repeatedly.
  • For some reason it doesn’t quite work.
  • For one thing, there’s an awful lot of Latinos who believe they are “white”.
  • Are they delusional?
  • Not really, it is a “glass half full” approach.
  • It is the “one drop rule” that marks the racist underbelly of American society, only in reverse.
  • Meaning that, if there’s one drop of Caucasian blood in you, well then you are indeed white!
  • LOL
  • You watch TV or social media in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, even Spain, and you might think that they are shooting their ad campaigns in Sweden.
  • The euphemism we use in the ad racket is “aspirational”.
  • Is it a conspiracy to oppress minorities and the working classes?
  • Nonsense.
  • Procter & Gamble would love for everyone to buy more of their products.
  • Why would they restrict their market reach to a certain niche of ethnicity, gender or income?
  • Reminds me of the notion that women are underpaid in comparison to males who do the exact same jobs.
  • Really?
  • The notion gives me a bit of a case of cognitive dissonance: if female human resources are cheaper, what is stopping every employer on this planet from boosting their bottom line by laying off all their male staff and replacing them with females?
  • There obviously are other factors we are not taking into consideration.
  • I’ve been called a chauvinistic pig for saying this a few times, but other than acting offended and accusing me of gender bias nobody has ever given me a reasonable answer.
  • But let’s get back to racial diversity in advertising.
  • Casting “regular people” in ads, movies, TV, magazines et al doesn’t appear to do the trick because regular folk don’t seem to quite like seeing themselves reflected in the media they consume, regardless of the usual niceties they throw around during focus groups.
  • They see themselves in the mirror every morning when they brush their teeth.
  • My guess is that, for a number of mostly subconscious, deep seated yet rarely verbalized “aspirational” reasons, we want to see and relate to winners of the genetic lottery in the content we consume.
  • With winners of the genetic lottery I mean attractive and successful individuals of Western & Northern European ancestry.
  • In other words, the top of the socioeconomic pyramid throughout the last couple centuries.
  • There seem to be anthropological and evolutionary explanations for this: what we regard as attractive or desirable comes from our most ingrained animalesque instincts regarding status in the herd, hereditary healthfulness and the strength and ability to procreate and protect offspring.
  • Yup, the colonial and post-colonial reality has set the pecking order.
  • We might be a bunch of Uncle Toms.
  • By no means I am saying this is fair or right.
  • But it is what it is and it affects our daily lives directly.
  • The as of late wildly famous Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is taking the interwebs by storm with his politically incorrect rants about these realities of social hierarchy.
  • A minefield of taboos?
  • You bet.
  • Problem is, pseudo progressive dilettantes keep attacking the messenger and demanding cosmetic solutions of social reverse engineering, such as “positive discrimination” or mandatory gender quotas which, I’m afraid, will drive us to a society mired in cringe-inducing tokenism.
  • Thank you for your commiseration but I don’t want to be hired or admitted to college because I am Latino: I want to be hired or admitted to college because I’m good.
  • Follow my drift?
  • To be continued next week.

 

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