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Families have grown more diverse with time, but many brands have done a poor job at incorporating the changing face of the traditional American family into their advertising campaigns. When consumers fail to see themselves or their own story reflected in the ads produced, a missed opportunity for connection between the brand and consumers occurs.

Several big brands have become more sensitive to this disconnect in recent months. Companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Infiniti, Humira, State Farm, and Tide have released new ad campaigns featuring interracial couples in an effort to be more inclusive and better connect with their diverse and varied audience.

Large companies such as these historically have been risk adverse when it comes to and incorporating cultural changes into their advertising campaigns—perhaps with good reason. Cheerios received a high number of complaints when it first aired a commercial featuring an interracial couple in 2013. Old Navy and State Farm similarly experienced public backlash after publishing spots on Twitter that included interracial couples.

However, as positive, accepting perceptions and recognition of interracial relationships continues to rise nationwide, brands see new value in creating advertisements that are inclusive, so that they can appeal to a broader base of consumers. Some companies also sense that diverse ad campaigns better reflect their values and commitment to inclusivity. Given the changing demographics of the nation, it seems likely that the traditional American family will soon be as ethnically diverse in advertising as it is in real life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What changes in the macro-environment have led to changes in the demographics of the actors that appear in today’s ads?
  2. Do these advertisements appeal to consumers? How?

Source: Joanne Kaufman, “A Sign of ‘Modern Society:’ More Multiracial Families in Commercials,” The New York Times, June 3, 2018. See also Hallie Golden, “Inside the Biracial Advertising Boom,” Daily Beast, February 5, 2018; Kyle Killian, “Go to Commercial: Viewer Backlash over a Mixed Race Family,” Psychology Today, November 14, 2014