Realizing the IMPORTANCE of African American Women

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Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair Show, Atlanta, October 2013

We’ve heard and most of us have seen the strength of African American women.  The ability to effortlessly take care of home, work and still look stylish.  We see this in movies, television shows, talk shows and in everyday life.  They are at the forefront of style, trends and American culture.

Recently in Atlanta there was a natural hair show.  Thousands of women flocked to see what new products were new in this industry.  African American women are a complete niche market.  From hair, to clothes to shoes and shows, there is virtually every market that can reach theses strong women.

What are companies doing to speak to them?  Is it a good representation?   African American women are a great influence in the lives of their families, friends, community and anyone that is playing close attention (and that should be everyone).  If the hair industry, from mom and pops to top brands realize the importance of African American women, shouldn’t you?

What’s Black/Hispanic About It?

Are you talking to me?

Is it necessary to advertise to different demographics?  Should advertisers make one commercial for the general market, one for the African American market and even one still for the Hispanic, Asian and other markets?  If there wasn’t such a great need for multicultural marketing, would I would be out of the job?

Is it enough to just put black or hispanic talent in an advertisement and call it multicultural?  Is it a good idea either to have a Mexican talent voiceover a product targeted towards Cuban audience?  If you don’t see the problem with this, then you’ve probably have been missing the mark.

It amazes me that so many brands want the consumer to spend money with them, but are not willing to invest in their community.  For so long it was advertisers talking at consumers.  They would put what they thought was a good representation of a particular culture in commercials, but honestly it’s just not enough!

In order to reach your target market, you must engage them.  What are their likes and dislikes?  How is your message infused with their culture?  Most importantly, are you listening to them?

People don’t want to be talked at, they want to be communicated to, respected and included.  Don’t you?

Will You Love Me for Breakfast?

Will You Love Me for Breakfast?For years, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A have all been dominate forces in the breakfast game.  Recently, others have been testing the market.  Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Popeyes have expanded some of their locations to include breakfast items.

Taco Bell recently launched breakfast with a Waffle Taco, A.M. Crunchwrap and A.M. Griller, along with other items.  Wendy’s breakfast list includes a Mornin’ Melt Panini, an Artisan Egg Sandwich and a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.  Popeyes’ extended menu serves up grits, country fried steak biscuit, and of course their signature Louisiana’s Best Chicken Biscuit.

While they may still be in test mode, other franchises have made the successful transition into breakfast.  Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded their menu to include an assortment of breakfast sandwiches, even some that are targeted to health conscious individuals.  One of the fastest growing QSR chains, Subway has made breakfast a part of their day for over three years.

BBDO surveyed 1,000 Millennials about their eating-out habits and attitudes (including their views on some of the most popular QSR and fast-casual restaurants).  Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8% are white.  According to the research, 60% of Millennial “foodies” eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a week.  Millennials use food as a form of self-expression and entertainment.  When Millennials likes something, they share it with their world through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  The same goes for when they don’t like something, everyone will know.

Millennials will share what’s on their mind and they also respect each other’s opinions.  The advertising is in but the jury is out…Will Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Popeyes be able to take a slice of the breakfast quiche?  Tell us, would you still love them for breakfast?

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/206386/bbdo-probes-millennials-dining-out-habits.html#axzz2bmJBkeZL

Advertisers Need to Go Back to School

It’s that time once again.  Time for students to go back to school.  Time for parents to spend money on supplies, fees and yes, clothes for their children.  Time for companies to vie for both the parents’ and kids’ attention. Every Fall, the back to school rush its television, radio and all possible media streams.

This year I cannot think of one advertisement that stood out besides one grocery store’s BOGO deal on school supplies.  I received an e-mail last week from a retailer that instead of highlighting their children’s line, offered 20% on adult styles.  Hmmm…

When it comes time for me to think of school shopping, one advertisement comes to mind every year…The JCPenney commercial from 2004 with Alyson Stoner.  The ad features a stylish bobble head and several adolescents doing an array of hip hop dance moves.  The tune is catchy and the children are showing off their clothes with style in the classroom and lunchroom.  While the children are various ethnicities, the style of their dance moves transcends into what’s in and essentially…cool.

While particular clothing brands may not have stood out, it appeared that JCPenney was the place to shop for cool kids.  Fast forward nine years.  There are more ways than ever to reach the target audience, including social media.  With so many retailers to choose from, how are companies standing out (if they even are)?

ReDEENable?

 

Over the course of two weeks, Paula Deen has gone from Domestic Queen to Dropped Diva.  Food Network, Walmart, Smithfield and Target are a few included companies in the dozen that have severed ties with Deen and her product lines.  These dismals stem from a  lawsuit from a former employee, citing racial and sexual discrimination.  Deen has admitted to using the “N” word and her reaction to the backlash created a media storm and PR nightmare.

Thoughts around the office:

“Social judgment aside, Paula Deen worked herself into a major PR crisis that only experts could work her out of.”

“Only if she were to grab the bull by the horns and fess up in public, showing true compunction and behavior change would public opinion give her a chance at redemption.”
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“I don’t think her brand has really been hurt. She’s losing endorsements because her endorsers don’t want to be associated with this negative situation. Her core supporters will still support her. No love will be lost there.

“Her key supporters think and act exactly as she does. From what I know of this whole incident, my concern is no whether or not she’s racist or should endorse certain products, more about the level of respect, or lack thereof, that she has shown in her workplace. No one should be subject to a hostile work environment.”
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“I feel she should be judged on how she has carried herself in the past years,  when we have all become more sensitive to the meaning and sting of the word and less accepting of it’s use by anyone, should count not what she did umpteenth years ago especially since she has apologized.”

“I find myself not having warm and fuzzy feelings for the companies who have dropped her.  They don’t have to condone the use of the word and maybe some kind of action was necessary but could they have not reviewed the situation, made a suspension then come back with a decision when some time has passed.”

“I do think her brand is redeemable….it might not be as strong as it once was, but I think it will come back.”
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“I say yes.  I think her reputation and her brand are definitely redeemable.  It won’t happen overnight and it will take quite a bit of work.  She will have to prove to the AA community that she is truly remorseful and that she has been enlightened as to how hurtful that word can be to others.”

“I think Paula’s downfall was the fact that she used the phase “of course” when referring to the use of the “N” word.  That told us that she felt it was ok and a pretty common occurrence in the parts where she’s from.  I think that we can all be educated as to how our actions affect others and how to become more sensitive to other’s feelings and experiences.”
“On top of everything else, how can we say that we’re so offended when a white person uses the “N” word when we don’t get all bent out of shape when we hear other black persons using the word as if it was going out of style or something?”

At the end of the day it’s a word.  A word that we have allowed others to define and label us with.  It’s a word people.  If you take the power away from it, take the power out of it, then what……..”

Do you think Paula’s reputation is reDEENable?

Can I Touch Your Hair?

Can I Touch Your Hair

People are allowed the chance in NY to touch AA women’s hair

Almost every woman of color I know has been asked this question at least once in their lives. It’s always a question that brings discomfort, and often, a side eye…..

Well this past weekend, the founders of un-ruly.com gave spectators in NYC the opportunity to end their curiosity. During a two-hour exhibit on Thursday, June 6th, spectators in Union Square were able to touch live women’s heads, with a variety of hair ranging from straightened and sleek, coarse and kinky, to locs. The exhibit also took place during another two-hour span on June 8.

Not only is this an excellent tactic to start dialogue around this culturally, somewhat taboo fascination with ethnic hair, but it has also served as an experiential marketing strategy to build exposure for the Un’Ruly blog. As a result of the exhibit, the blog has been featured on websites for The Huffington Post, AOL, Jezebel, Refinery29 and more.

Want to learn more about the exhibit? Check out this link for more info: ‘You Can Touch My Hair’ Exhibit

What do you think Atlanta? Would you attend or participate in this exhibit if it were here?

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Cheerios’ Bold Move Outs Racist Maniacs

Kudos to Cheerios for bravely taking a step into the new multiculturalism that already shapes America’s population, but is rarely portrayed in media.

In less than 72 hours, Cheerios’ “Just Checking” commercial racked up 300,000 views on their YouTube channel (now close to 3 Million) and pulled the sheets off of America’s closeted, racist underbelly. Following suit of the other spots in the campaign, “Just Checking” innocently features a child interacting with her parents. The pot-stirring difference appears to be the ethnicities of the multiracial daughter, Anglo-(looking) mom and African American(-looking) dad. So stirred was this pot of discrimination, so visceral the comments left by trolls, that Cheerios decided to disable its comments on this video, proving that with progress does not often come without resistance.

Gawker.com has continued the dialogue on their message boards, where you can read (or chime in) on both sides of this heated and storied debate. Even Ad Age wrote a post on the breakfast cereal that was socially shared more than 600 times within hours of its posting.

Shaherra Rolen Family
Our own Shaherra Rolen commented that for the first time in recent memory, she saw a commercial image that resembled her own multi-racial family. She stated:


It’s great to finally see a commercial that is relatable to me, a wholesome family that just happens to be multiethnic.  Growing up I didn’t see a lot of mixed people fully represented on television.  Even now, the family structure is still shown as two parents of the same ethnicity.  I’m so glad to have had my bowl of Cheerios this morning and will do more to support General Mills products.

In your opinion, do you think Cheerios and General Mills took a brave step into the new multiculturalism, or did they try too hard? And how do you think this will affect the casting of future American TV spots?

Justin J. Jordan
@ArtistDirector