Ads are catching up with the reality of American life
While it’s been clear for some time that the make-up of American households is changing in terms of age, race, religion (or not), sexual orientation, etc., the faces in commercials have remained more "Father Knows Best" than "Modern Family." That is beginning to change as ads from companies such as Coca-Cola, Gap, General Mills, Procter & Gamble and others reflect the diverse reality of modern America. The question now becomes whether American consumers are ready for the changes they see in commercials and if these new spots will translate into sales for brand marketers and retailers.
Last year, General Mills got a huge amount of attention when it ran a Cheerios spot depicting an interracial couple and their daughter. While the spot was extremely popular, the comments section of YouTube needed to be closed down due to the racist remarks.
More recently, a Coca-Cola spot during the Sochi Olympics, which showed Americans of various descents singing "America The Beautiful" in their original languages, prompted calls for a boycott and put the nation’s xenophobia on display for the world to see.
Both General Mills and Coca-Cola refused to capitulate to the haters and it seems as though advertisers are becoming more willing to take risks with the belief there will be a top and bottom line payoff.
The most recent example is a new spot from Honey Maid. The "This is Wholesome" 30-second commercial from the graham cracker brand features interracial couples with their kids, a gay couple feeding their baby with a bottle, and a Millennial couple with a father whose body is covered in tattoos (a Robert Young/Jim Anderson look-alike he’s not). It also includes a message about the ingredients, including the product being made with whole grains and sans high fructose corn syrup.
- This is Wholesome – Honey Maid/YouTube
- America is Beautiful – Coca-Cola/YouTube
- Swiffer Effect – Procter & Gamble/YouTube
- Just Checking – General Mills/YouTube
- Father Knows Best
- Diversity reaches new levels in Honey Maid ads – USA Today
- Ad Campaigns Are Finally Reflecting Diversity of U.S. – Ad Age (tiered sub.)
- Millennials in Adulthood – Pew Research
Are American consumers ready for the changes they see in commercials? Will these new spots reflecting the nation’s diversity translate into sales for brand marketers and retailers?