Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Being culturally sensitive...or simply increasing their bottom line??

I was reading something about multicultural marketing that made me think...

I've seen/heard people get upset because certain ethnic groups aren't targeted. But then I've also seen/heard people get upset because a certain ethnic group *is* targeted, but in a way that is offensive to people within that culture.

For example, I heard a discussion about a new McDonald's commercial that has an R&B singer much like the ones on the radio...but made into a McDonald's song. There was a mixture of feelings coming from the African-American people who were having the discussion. Some thought it was humorous; some were appalled.

As people have spoken out about the diversity within our society and executives have finally begun to take notice, marketing to the different groups has gotten a lot of attention. Companies have begun to figure out that they need to "market to" different groups of people. Many have even hired people of the different "target ethnicities" to help them with these ideas. Companies are learning that they need to be sensitive to the different ethnic groups and make sure to include and represent them in their marketing ads.

However, is being culturally sensitive in a marketing message what people of the different ethnic groups really asking for??

As I thought about it, "marketing to" is different than listening to, learning from, and adjusting because of.

...because when I "market to" you, I am selling you something...and, thus, I benefit and my bottom line increases. The person being "marketed to," for the most part, is no better off as a result.

Isn't much of the problem in our society right now because we've all become commercialized and want, want, want because we have all been over-marketed to spend, spend, spend and buy, buy, buy?? We see unhealthy foods that we want, despite the fact that we are overweight...we see "toys" (yes, your new iphone counts as a toy!!) that we (or our kids) want that we can't afford...we are mesmerized by images and behaviors that aren't healthy for us to see or emulate...

I have a hard time believing people truly want to be inundated with these types of behaviors.

Instead I wonder...is it that people of different cultural groups are upset because those unhealthy behaviors are not marketed to them?...or is what they're really saying is "I want you to listen to me, learn from me, and adjust because of me???"

Hear me, see me, don't ignore me...and don't patronize me!
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