Brands miss out on eth­nic mi­nor­ity youth op­por­tu­nity

Ad­ver­tis­ers of­ten avoid us­ing eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups in their ad­ver­tis­ing for fear of ‘get­ting it wrong’.

Campaign Middle East - - CLOSE-UP - By David Be­nady

Youth pop­u­la­tion…eth­nic mi­nori­ties be­lieve racial stereo­types con­tinue to ex­ist in ad­ver­tis­ing

Most UK ad­ver­tis­ers con­tinue to fail to rep­re­sent Bri­tain’s di­verse eth­nic groups, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of a study by Man­ning Got­tlieb OMD.

Agen­cies and brands were found to lack con­fi­dence when it comes to por­tray­ing eth­nic mi­nori­ties in ads for fear of get­ting it wrong and of­fend­ing peo­ple. In­deed, many of the young peo­ple from eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups sur­veyed be­lieved that, de­spite im­prove­ments in re­cent years, there are still too many clumsy racial stereo­types in ad­ver­tis­ing.

The study into the at­ti­tudes, be­liefs and me­dia be­hav­iour of youth in the UK in­volved 1,700 18- to 29-year-olds from ten eth­nic groups, in­clud­ing white Bri­tons, as well as qual­i­ta­tive re­search.

Sixty-nine per cent of Asian youth and 75 per cent of black youth agreed that rep­re­sen­ta­tion of eth­nic groups in me­dia, pol­i­tics and the po­lice is im­por­tant. Black fe­males feel most strongly about this, with 80 per cent agree­ing.

Ali­son Tsang, the head of in­sight at MG OMD who led the project, pointed to Unilever’s Dove ad in 2011 that was at­tacked by blog­gers as “un­in­ten­tional racism”, which was then picked up and am­pli­fied in the Daily Mail.

In the same year, Cad­bury apol­o­gised to the model Naomi Camp­bell after com­par­ing her to a choco­late bar in an ad for Dairy Milk Bliss. And last year, Pep­siCo had to with­draw a spot for Moun­tain Dew after a storm of protest over al­legedly racist con­tent.

Tsang be­lieves mis­takes can hap­pen when “there is no sin­gle per­son tak­ing charge of the process so it gets through all lev­els”, adding: “There is a fear of get­ting it wrong.”

At the same time, ev­i­dence sug­gests that brands are miss­ing out on op­por­tu­ni­ties by fail­ing to tar­get young eth­nic mi­nor­ity con­sumers.

Launch­ing the study, MG OMD’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Robert Ffitch, says: “The re­search is giv­ing key in­sights into the eth­nic youth au­di­ence of 18- to 29-year-olds that we just don’t have and don’t know any­thing about – and yet they are be­com­ing so im­por­tant in our so­ci­ety. Our clients hardly ever talk about this group of in­di­vid­u­als.” By 2016, half of the eth­nicmi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tion will be un­der 12, while half of the white Bri­tish pop­u­la­tion will be un­der 40, ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Run­nymede Trust. Mean­while, one in four of Gen­er­a­tion Y will be from eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups.

So ad­ver­tis­ers could miss out on tar­get­ing th­ese groups un­less they un­der­stand their as­pi­ra­tions and de­sires.

The re­search shows they have dis­tinct be­hav­iour and at­ti­tudes, which could of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for brands. Youth from eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups are more aspi­ra­tional than the wider pop­u­la­tion, plac­ing greater em­pha­sis on sta­tus sym­bols such as brands and de­signer la­bels.

More than a third (34 per cent) of eth­nic mi­nor­ity youth agreed that “hav­ing the right de­signer la­bels are im­por­tant for a per­son’s im­age”, while 18 per cent of white Bri­tish youth agreed.Tsang said: “They are very much into their brands and buy them more than white youth be­cause they are lit­tle sta­tus sym­bols to coun­ter­act neg­a­tive stereo­types… if they look good, it is pro­ject­ing a re­ally pos­i­tive im­age of them­selves. They feel they need to work harder.”

The study chimes with the lat­est re­search from the Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, which found that only 45 per cent of the eth­nic mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tion think ads rep­re­sent a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety.

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