Ethnicity and race – the best social campaigns


Today very formal and long post about one of the topics I’m especially interested in – social campaigns. So well – I hope nobody will die from boredom reading it. I wrote 1 year ago a long essay about this topic for one of my subjects, so it may be a little bit more serious then just my usual posts here, but I hope you’d like it! Let’s begin.

Topics that focus on identities are especially interested if it comes to their representation in commercials. Social commercials showing identities of immigrants and race are trying to create more awareness of the life of an immigrant and of the problems of racism as well.

There is often a confusion  between identity and culture. Identity is used both with the preservation of traditions and customs. This is problematic because behaving in ways that correspond to an ethnic patterns  and participation in a ethnic contexts can be instrumental and not necessarily is has to be an expressive of identity.[1]

The same problem appears in the commercials – they try to show “identity” of an immigrant or “race identity”, but usually it could be very instrumental. We can very often found in commercials many different over-simplifications, like for example:

– racial identity reduced only to skin colour
– nationalism reduced to patriotism


Examples and issues             


1.                  Posters –

Let me start by showing some of the best posters – these are mainly from UK and Scotland






2.      “Cheerios” commercial presenting inter-racial family


Now I would like to focus on one commercial, but  also show the reaction to a commercial.

 Some time ago there was a case of racist backlash against an advertising of the company’s featuring an interracial family in United States (commercial available to see here )  . This commercial includes a white mother, black father and biracial child. It received so many hateful comments from racists worried that “Cheerios” highlighted a mixed-race family that company shut down the comments section on the commercial’s Web page.[2]

The “Cheerios” commercial is not the first to present a black-white interracial couple. “Blockbuster” commercial featured a white mom, black dad and biracial son and four years ago, a “Philadelphia Cream Cheese” commercial featured a black man and white woman eating a breakfast in bed. Given that numbers of families that contain interracial couples grown to 28 percent from 2000 to 2010, it’s a smart marketing for companies to present mixed-race couples in commercials. However, the reactions of the public – as we may observe – can be very negative and aggressive. Of course, the company stands by this commercial and defends the idea – but it a  great example why there should be more commercials like this. It supposed to bring awareness to the people and try to decrease racism problem – which is of course – a long way to go still.

3.      Benetton commercials


 How can I not talk about the most known brand for social campaigns activity? That’s right, I can’t . Ladies and gentleman – well-known to all of you – Benetton.

“We did not create our advertisements in order to provoke, but to make people talk, to develop citizen consciousness

Luciano Benetton

Benetton is a global fashion brand, which was founded in Treviso, Italy. Benetton has a network of over 6,500 stores in 120 countries.  Since the 1980s this company has gained a reputation for shock-advertising that has a lot of controversy and that is stimulating debates. In the 1980s, world-renowned photographer Olivero Toscani created for Benetton the first of his multiracial campaigns with the “United Colors of Benetton” . The basic Luciano Benetton thought was:


I am not here to sell pullovers, but to promote an image


Benetton asks:


 “Can marketing and the enormous power of advertising budgets be used to establish a dialogue with consumers that focuses on something other than a company’s products? Where was it written that advertising could only portray the absence of conflict and pain?’[3]


With this policy Benetton created a lot of advertisements connected to race and ethnic issues Most of this commercials are trying to show the identity of a single individual.


4. Many example on social actions presented on blogs


            Nowadays we have many different ways of communication – especially through internet. So another way to make a positive public action that brought up awareness about race or multiculturalism is to try to use a personal blog for that. We have an excellent example of this case. In this action people were asked to touch hair of afro-american women.


Not only is this an excellent tactic to start dialogue around this culturally, somewhat taboo fascination with ethnic hair, but it has also served as an experiential marketing strategy to build exposure for the Un’Ruly blog. As a result of the exhibit, the blog has been featured on websites for The Huffington Post, AOL, Jezebel, Refinery29 and more

5. This is one commercial that I specially liked, its not so much about race, but about stereotypes – but it’s a topic so much connected to the others I present.

From Belgium –

Identity connected with race and ethnicity is an excellent topic in commercials, because its not only a good strategic movement, but also a good case to bring out awareness and decrease racism. This topic for sure will pursue his path in a commercial world, because it is still a lot to talk about and its still a lot to show. The diversity of nowadays world – full of people moving from place to place – it a great inspiration to make advertisements, that make us more unite and more understanding of one another.


[1]Athias Flora, Transnational mobilities, migration research and intersectionality. Towards a translocational frame [in:] Nordic journal of Migration Research

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