It’s been widely reported that marketers have amped up their efforts to reach African-American and Hispanic/Latino populations in recent years. Most of these efforts have been geared towards youth and teens in these groups, and since they spend about 4.5 hours more with media on a daily basis than white youth, they’re easy to reach. But a new report out by the Center for Digital Democracy, synthesizing multiple marketing studies and strategies, is chilling in its implications of the marketing industry’s blunt disregard for the well-being of Hispanic families and their culture.
The report focuses on how food and beverage marketers target Hispanics, for it is here that the marketing practices may be most heinous. Obesity among Hispanics is a known problem; in 2011, 31.5% of Hispanic teens were overweight or obese, compared with 25.7% of white teens. Yet marketers press on, noting the buying power of children in making indulgent purchases for sweets, and tapping into specific Hispanic cultural values. As the report explains:
An article in Candy & Snack Today focused on the “revenue potential” in the Hispanic market for sweets, explaining that “Familismo, Marianismo and Chicoismo are three great imperatives of the Hispanic culture with great implications at the cash register.” Familismo is described as having a “heightened sense of family”; Marianismo as “keeping the family together and preserving the joy of childhood”; and Chicoismo, which holds “much hope and aspiration” for children, fosters a parental attitude to “trust their children almost blindly in all matters related to technology, regulations and the modern way of life.”
Also included is a citation from a Kraft advertising presentation about marketing macaroni and cheese to a Hispanic audience which “featured supporting messages that eating Kraft Mac & Cheese would make Hispanics happy and not less Latino.”
Sleazy advertising tactics are nothing new, but it is no less unsettling to read about how mindful marketers are in subverting cultural values for their own monetary gain, while making it more difficult for a community to overcome a health crisis. However, normalcy doesn’t have to make us complacent, and if we want the practice to change, we can. It starts with recognizing how marketers try to get to us, so we can be aware of when an attempt is being made to manipulate our decisions, and stop to re-evaluate our true needs and wants. Back in 2011, we made a list called “5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Combat Irresponsible Advertising to Youth,” and it’s still useful today for taking action against unethical marketing practices.
Tell us in the comments: What would you add to the list, and how do you notice advertisements targeting minority groups?