Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Why Whites Are Over-Represented in TV Ads

race_fountain In the UK, opinion leaders are currently feigning surprise and perplexity at the fact that there, just as in the USA, TV ads show too many white people. “Why? How can this be?,” wonder the writers and industry spokespeople.

If ever there were a question that was easy to answer, this, despite the media reportage suggesting otherwise, is it. There are two extremely basic and overwhelming reasons why white people are over-represented in television advertisements:

1. In societies with substantial racist histories (to say nothing of those with epic, paint-peeling racist histories like the UK and USA), whites still have way more money than non-whites, so the whites simply count more (and more often) as marketing “targets.”

2. Big business marketing is inherently conservative, inherently afraid of offending the most backwards parts of its targeted audiences. Hence, on topics like race and gender, capitalist advertising is always going to be at least a step behind the overall population, to say nothing of reason, enlightenment, and truth/justice.

Recall the self-report of Ed Vorkapich, long-time Pepsi-Cola advertising director, which I cited in the TCT book:

“You’ve got to be careful that the white guys don’t relate too much to the black girl and that the black guy doesn’t relate too much to the white girls.”

Such is the behind-the-scenes stuff of our dominant institutions.

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