Is Your Ad Racially Insensitive? What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Missteps by Gap, Dove and H&M.

Is Your Ad Racially Insensitive? What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Missteps by Gap, Dove and H&M.

In 2017, Dove apologized for a GIF advertising Dove body wash. Brand managers analyze and interpret consumer data, uncover market insights and create branding strategies. The lack of diversity in the marketing and advertising industry isn't the only problem. Since Latina and black consumers are paramount to sales growth, many businesses are turning to diverse freelancers and multicultural agencies for immediate support. Twenty-nine-year-old Stephanie Caudle, the founder of minority freelance platform Black Girl Group, connects black female freelance creatives to companies seeking to create content specifically for black audiences. In the realm of marketing and branding, "stretch" assignments would most certainly include leading a creative team of junior marketers. Hire a diverse marketing team ... and respect their candor. Being frank when marketing campaigns could alienate the brand's consumer segment could avoid negative brand perception, loss in market share or decline in stock price. With annual revenue north of $22 million, Burrell Communications is one of the largest multicultural marketing firms in the world. In the decades since its inception, Burrell Communications has seen an increase in the amount of apologies issued from small-business owners, entrepreneurs and the like.

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Is Your Ad Racially Insensitive? What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Missteps by Gap, Dove and H&M.

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Another day, another (lost) dollar.

As the heads of households, Latina and black women have a combined consumer spending power that will reach over $3 billion in just three years, according to Nielsen. Brands are salivating at the sizable opportunity, but in recent years they have all but alienated these consumers. A few examples:

In 2016, Gap apologized for an ad in which a young black girl posed next to an older white girl, who propped her arm on the younger girl’s head. The ad drew criticism from black consumers.

In 2017, Dove apologized for a GIF advertising Dove body wash. It looped an image of a black woman removing a dark brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman.

Earlier this year, H&M was forced to apologize for using a black child to model a sweatshirt that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.” The image of the child in the hoodie appeared on the British version of the Swedish retailer’s online store, but the brand experienced global backlash from consumers and vandalized store locations.

The point of whether each event deserved the level of backlash it received is irrelevant. Instead, let’s discuss the team behind the brand. These became negative incidents because the brands weren’t managed by someone who frequently experiences racism or prejudice. And when targeting minority consumers, having this perspective is paramount. For example, a diverse brand manager would have understood black mothers are sensitive to the portrayal of their sons in the media.

Hire a diverse marketing team.

Popular brands such as Dove are comprised of products manufactured by a company. In this instance, Unilever is the company which manufactures Dove. Each brand has a manager who owns the branding process, but they don’t work in silos. There are junior marketers, senior executives and customers who also serve as brand stakeholders.

Brand managers analyze and interpret consumer data, uncover market insights and create branding strategies. Once branding strategies are created, a brand manager develops, implements and executes marketing activities. She is responsible for increasing market share by understanding what the consumer needs before the consumer even realizes they need it.

There’s a clear dichotomy between the large global brands — typically led by mostly (if not all) white brand managers — and the minority consumer. (If this sounds unbelievable, take a look at the AdAge A-List for 2018.) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,…

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