Should marketing reflect ideals or social norms?
By reflecting social norms in our marketing it seems that we may reinforce these norms regardless of their validity. It seems that by promoting anything you inherently promote an agenda.
But any agenda is multi-layered. Because just as someone made the "agenda", we had eyes to interpret it.
As I sat on the subway the other day, I looked up to see an ad for a storage center that claimed to have "the whole team" watching your stuff: a bouncer, a maid and awesome customer service.
The only hispanic in the ad was the maid.
My first reaction was one of anger. Why do they always represent latinos in this way?
But as my mind began to judge the ad for supposedly judging us, another argument intervened.
Who is to say the position as a maid is a bad one?
Who here knows the story of the woman in that picture or of any of them?
Am I not judging as well only from a position of superiority?
I saw what I wanted to see. Had you told me that young woman came from a poor town where she had once been a prostitute I'd tell you that her work now was dignified, honorable and safe.
But from my point of view in that moment, she was settling.
She deserved "better".
I know nothing of that woman, what she values or who she is.
But for a moment, I was certain that her role represented stereotypes and discrimination.
I don't know if we should market with what we hope the world to be like and run the risk that our campaign doesn't resonate with anyone.
Or if we should do what "works" even if it's bias and ineffective in its own right.
I just know that we sometimes see things as we want to and that a slight change of perspective or history can change everything…