The marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored and non-sponsored message to promote or sell a product or service has created a platform for the proliferation of racial stereotypes. Racial stereotypes are automatic and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold about all members of a particular racial group (University of Notre Dame 2019). This widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or actions plays a significant role in the manner in which people relate, view situations and people of certain social or racial classes. The race is a group of people that descended from a common individual or persons within a population having distinct features but sharing common attachments such as language, culture, or history. The media, as a broadcasting and narrowcasting channel that is used in passing information and expressing the self, has created a wider platform for different advertising information to be passed. Racial stereotyping in advertising is widely evident and attributed to many factors such as the scope of operation, intended market, celebrity figure, and advancement of particular cultural and social beliefs.
For every business that wishes to do advertising, there is always a need to reach out to the specific audience in society as their intended market. They would go to larger extents to ensure that they use the language the market is conversant with, to channel the people that would make them comply with the understanding of the product or services that is being offered. According to Chiu (2019), brands should continue to consider ways to effectively target diverse groups to ensure their benefits. The major process involved in the making of racial stereotypes in advertising is the evaluation of the language of the intended market, their cultural and social beliefs, and the scope of the brand. On the contrary, the use of racial stereotypes in marketing is majorly based on the cultural and social beliefs that largely affect the economic lives of the intended market. The language barrier or pitching content into the native language does a little in affecting the economic value or need for products of service. These factors are however all centered on the scope of the brand, many customers, and more sales. There may be many companies offering a certain service or product hence they may need to compete for a similar market, this leads to the use of English as the conventional language and culture to reach out to the people to expand their markets. Due to the need for diversity and strain in the market, the companies may resort to other measures to pass information to their intended market. This creates an avenue for segregation and racial discrimination which in the marketing world is the less profound sense it is brought positively and compellingly. The brands will evaluate the market, and this is where consideration on language, culture, and social beliefs of the market come in, upon realizing the need to bring the content home, to the people and the best way they can do it is to create advertisements based while trying to figure out a stereotypic belief of a particular race and positively highlight combining its relativity to their product or service.
Besides, racial discrimination is still a factor affecting many businesses and brands on the use of their products. This has led to the use of other media such as cinemas and music in advertising. The selection is always precisely and carefully done considering the genre in which the persona is operating. Prominent sportspersons from different racial backgrounds are being used to do advertisements intended for particular minority groups, musicians from different minority groups are also being used to advertise products that the brands would consider beneficial to them but lacks proper knowledge(examples). Other prominently used racial stereotypes in advertising are evident in the fashion and beauty industry where most adverts on body gels and creams are decoded with black women who show off their skin transformation from being dark to chocolate and then light, this is intended for most black people due to the notion of stereotypic beliefs evident among most black people that light skin color is more likable and accepted. One such example as noted by Carr (2019) is the Dove lotion advertisement that showed a dark-skinned lady transforming into white by applying the lotion, it received backlash and was later removed.
Considerably, the intended market plays a significant role in the advertising field. Everyone would be drawn to take a second look at a product if it is portrayed in a means that best suits them, a language and visuals that they are more conversant with. In different fields, advertising is done by persons who are considered highly held in society and this brings in the factor of other media being integrated into advertising. The United States is one such country that has very diverse cultures, brands would be willing to make take a particular race of people to use in marketing their product intending to reach a particular market such as Espanyol, Russians, or African Americans. The advertisements are always done through means or channels that these groups conform with such as the Italian Football advertisement on Supersport is spoken in English but with an Italian accent. As affirmed by the University of Notre Dame (2019), it is human nature to categorize people into certain groups and this is majorly seen as racism in instances when people want to access services or use facilities. However, in the field of marketing and advertising, brands tend to be manipulative in portraying their products to the markets, they discriminate using statistical analyses to put their intended market into different purchase scepters and by determining their purchases among the different groups, they are able to come up with models for knowing their popularity among the groups and how to best reach to them to increase sales.
Cultural models and social beliefs by a great extent shape the way particular groups respond to purchases and this puts the advertising fields at a stake of carefully determining their market and the best way to make their purchases increase. For instance, the vegetarian communities of India would need COFCO Meat, a Chinese beef company to use an Indian in advertising the benefits of eating meat if in case they intend to expand their scope of operation into India. Even in dire situations, racial stereotyping in the advertisement would be necessary for the production of pork to increase in Islamic countries; it is not meant to harm but to pass out a message that the product or service is not harmful or does not only belong to other groups but we too can use them. This is the main reason for using racial stereotypes in advertisements, to reach out to the minutely segregated or neglected groups that are a potential market for a product or service. International companies face this major challenge in reaching out to the world to market their products and this correlates to an issue highlighted by Maheshwari (2017) of the New York Times on Different Ads, Different Ethnicities, Same car. This was an advertisement done by Toyota unveiling their new car brand and shows the adjustments they are making on their tactics for marketing. Relative to past experiences and racial claims, several companies have been taunted for using racist information in their advertisements such as the H&M company which was ridiculed for using a black boy in a monkey hood written ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle, the company was eventually forced to apologize (The Guardian, 2018).
The language barrier also plays a very important role in shaping the way a product is advertised leading to the making of racial stereotypes in advertising. Maheshwari (2017) notes that if a person of any group is looking for communication that is like them, that looks like them specifically, race-based advertising provides the best avenue. According to Arno (2011), localizing duplicate content is one way in which advertising is done through racial stereotyping. There is a need to translate the content into a language that the target group is conversant with while editing it to ensure that all cultural and linguistic differences are considered. Another way in which the content of advertisements is made up to date and plausible to the minority groups is the hiring of in-country pitchers and translators which is essential in evaluating the output, enhancing the flow of feedback, and also in the dissemination and publication of the content. When an advert is pitched into a native language, the brands are able to concentrate on greater opportunities which may be strategizing content and expansion into other markets. The electronic industry of China faces the challenge of presentation since their main market is in Africa, but Africans believe Chinese products are at some point not of quality, to contravene this, the companies, to make the African markets understand that they only produce for them what they can afford, they use black people in advertising their products and translates all the information into English, which is not manipulative but business-oriented strategy.
The National Academic Press (2019) notes that low socioeconomic status is one of the factors that lead to racial discrimination. Racial stereotyping in advertisements is also based on the social and economic status of the intended groups. Segregation due to social status may be evaluated by the statistical evidence from the different groups based on their education levels and economic abilities. A brand wishing to improve its sales in a region of generally low educational status will need to use a language that the people are conversant with and eliminate the notion of conventional English as the acceptable language, they may also need to do pitching and localize their marketers to use the dialect of the people. Racial stereotyping in advertising based on the economic status of the intended market also influences the type of product that the people are brought for, a brand may produce similar but cheaper products with different naming and present it to the particular ethnic group since they would be able to afford it in that state rather than present to them the high quality which would see the brand make fewer sales.
Concurrent with socio-economic, language, cultural and social factors that influence racial stereotyping in advertisements, companies and brands also face a major challenge in accommodating the diversity of their markets, hence based on the factors, they will tend to narrow down to the ideologies and possible reasons as to why their products are not properly marketed and advanced in sales. Based on these factors, the brands will evaluate the possible ways in which to turn the stereotypic beliefs into their benefits considering that the beliefs do not harm and are a fair way of targeting the specific groups. Stereotyping activation that is more automatic and application that is more deliberate are some of the most commonly used means of making racial stereotypes in advertising. As noted by systematic racism is related to a designated group composition of the advertising agencies as opposed to the targeted racism which relates to the intended market placed by the media. The most contented and challenging factor with racial stereotyping in advertising is attributed to the transformation of the content of advertising.
In conclusion, there is a need to look into the effect of racial stereotyping in advertising if it is negatively affecting the market which in turn affects the scope of the brand since some brands are ignorant of how they present their products and services to the intended market considering the potential harm attached with the presented information. Agencies should also team up to check on the advertising media to ensure they present their products in a socially acceptable way that meets the intended market without negatively affecting the scope of operation of the brands.
- Arno. C. (2011). Content Marketing Institute. Crossing the Content Marketing Foreign Language Barrier. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/08/content-marketing-language-barrier/;
- Carr. S. (2019). PPC Project. The Top 8 Recent Controversial Ads. Retrieved from https://ppcprotect.com/top-controversial-ads/;
- Chiu. B. (2019). Forbes. Addressing The Ad Industry’s Sticky Problem With Race. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bonniechiu/2019/07/16/addressing-the-ad-industrys-sticky-problem-with-race/#196c9c2b28d0;
- Maheshwari. S. (2017). The New York Times. Different Ads, Different Ethnicities, Same Car. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/12/business/media/toyota-camry-ads-different-ethnicities.html;
- National Academic Press (2019). Prejudice and Discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/read/11036/chapter/9;
- The Guardian. (2018). H&M apologizes over the image of a black child in ‘monkey hoodie’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/jan/08/h-and-m-apologises-over-image-of-black-child-in-monkey-hoodie;
- University of Notre Dame (2019). Overcoming Racial Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://ucc.nd.edu/self-help/multicultural-awareness/overcoming-stereotypes/.