My friend Bill from Toledo told me a story once and it has stayed with me for more than twenty years.
At the time, he was in broadcast television commercial production and, as a Black man living in America, he had a very different perspective than I did. He recalled being a kid in the early 70’s watching television and seeing a person of color portrayed in a local commercial. He raced to the kitchen and shouted excitedly to his mom, “There’s a black man on TV!”
The occurrence was pretty rare back then, though in many cities (Toledo included) the African American population was a significant part of the market. For a variety of reasons, most likely starting with the fact that most commercial production workers were white men, there was very little ethnic diversity on TV.
As a result, and for decades, advertisers were missing the mark with their messages.
Perhaps as a part of the many social justice movements or the expanding base of talented producers – many of whom are women, Hispanic, Asian, or Black – commercials now look different. And they should.
It’s not uncommon these days to see a tapestry of people represented in advertising now. If you read magazines, watch enough TV, or glance at billboards while driving down the road, you’ll notice same sex couples, bi-racial families, and all kinds of images of people.
That’s because most of us desire to be able to relate to those we see in advertising. Incorporating client testimonials, patients, actors, or models who represent your core audience creates a connection. Determine who you are doing business with or what part of the market you’d like to serve, and then be intentional in selecting the images you use. Whether it is a print ad, digital billboard, website, social media post, or your new TV commercial, it’s important to utilize talent who match society. It’s a simple tactic, but an important part of representing your business and doing business successfully.
Bill’s story may be 20 years old, but the lesson is completely relevant in 2020 – and moving forward.