Recently, companies and brands like JPMorgan Chase, Humira, State Farm, Smile Direct Club, Coors Light, Macy’s, Tide and Cadillac have featured multiracial couples or families in their advertising.
“There’s no doubt that the incidence of these commercials is at least double what it was five years ago,” said Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at the Pace University, Lubin School of Business. “For the longest time, ads presented the typical American household as Caucasian, heterosexual, two children and two cars in the driveway,” he added. It’s taken the advertising community, and particularly their clients, a long time to come to grips with that. They’re risk averse.”
That relatively new awareness, Mr. Chiagouris said, has resulted in not only more ads with interracial couples, but also more gay and lesbian couples.
The prevalence of these commercials “is a reflection of modern society,” said Sarah Block, EVP, creative director at Leo Burnett USA, who has worked on several ads depicting multiracial families, including commercials for Kraft. “It’s portraying the situation that is out in the world.”
“I think there’s an ever increasing demand from customers to understand not just what products and services you provide, but also to understand who you are as a company, what your values are,” said Fiona Carter, the chief brand officer at AT&T, which owns DirecTV.
When Cheerios released a commercial in 2013 featuring an interracial family, it received enough racist vitriol online that the YouTube comment section below the ad was closed. But there was also an outpouring of support, and Cheerios ran a sequel to the ad during the Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
Susan Canavari, the chief brand officer for JPMorgan Chase, said the bank wasn’t trying to make a statement with its 2016 commercial that followed the relationship of a white boy and a black girl as it progressed from puppy love to marriage. “We really just intend to make all our communications reflect our customers,” Ms. Canavari said. “We didn’t get more or less response to that ad than to any other. “We’re a bank,” she added with a laugh. “Everything we do is greeted with some sort of cynicism.”
Kaufman, J. (2018, June 3). A Sign of “Modern Society”: More Multiracial Families in Commercials. The New York Times.