Monday, May 17, 2021

The advertising industry's suspiciously sudden embrace of diversity

Noticed anything different about TV commercials lately?

Take a look at the people in them. They used to be overwhelmingly white – in fact almost blindingly so. Not anymore.

From being virtually invisible in TV advertising, ethnic minorities – Maori, Pasifika, Indian, Chinese, African – are now highly conspicuous.

We’re seeing other types of diversity too, with hints that some of the characters in our TV commercials are gay and lesbian. Nothing too overt, mind you.

This is not, in itself, a bad thing. We’re now seeing commercials that more accurately reflect New Zealand as it is.

We live in one of the world’s most diverse societies. In the last Census (2018), 1.2 million of us - that's 25 per cent - were born overseas. New Zealand is home to people of more than 200 ethnicities. 

The number of New Zealanders who see themselves as European is in steady decline – down from 74 per cent in 2013 to 70 percent in 2018. It seems ad agencies have only recently woken up to these facts.

If anything, the ad industry has swung from one misrepresentation to another. Ethnic minorities that were previously ignored are now centre-stage, but they're still minorities - so the society we see reflected in TV commercials in 2021 is probably no more an accurate mirror of reality than the one we saw when white faces predominated. It’s the old, familiar pendulum effect.

What’s driven this change? Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a simple case of ad agencies belatedly realising that the people shown in TV commercials no longer reflect New Zealand as it really is.

If that were the case, the worst they could be accused of is being slow off the mark, and perhaps trying to atone by over-correcting. But I think there’s something else going on here.

I suspect that ethnic minorities are suddenly being showcased not so much because it’s the right thing to do, but because the advertising industry is terrified of being labelled as racist, white supremacist and insufficiently inclusive. In other words, the change is probably driven by fear of the aggressive ideological phenomenon we know as wokery.

What gives the game away is the speed with which this has happened. It’s not as if the transformation of New Zealand society, from overwhelmingly European to vibrantly multicultural, happened suddenly; it’s been going on for years, if not decades, under the industry’s noses.

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. In effectively signing up to this woke agenda, the advertising industry is playing it safe by going with the crowd.

This should surprise no one. The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes.



Johnston said...

Karl, look at these grants to left wing groups across the board from the Monahan brothers, who run this front for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation:

About the Monahan brothers:

Note also that the major mainstream news outlets are increasingly reporting under Silicon Valley news projects funded by Google and other major tech players.

All this as Amazon, Salesforce, Luminate, and Microsoft, etc, are awarded government projects - often in preference of local providers as with the national immunity register to be run by Salesforce and Amazon - hand-over-fist.

Doug Longmire said...

Yes, I certainly had noticed that trend Karl.
I also have seen the trend for the TV news to become more and more woke, with almost no investigative or politically objective content. The TV medium is clearly becoming the propaganda arm of the government. Any reports of matters critical of the current Left wing government are handled very softly. Any reports including Judith Collins are carefully orchestrated to show her frowning or in some unflattering pose.
There is currently a huge change to New Zealand being proposed - the Comrade Ardern's government's deliberate and planned destruction of democracy to be replaced by a separatist, racist dictatorship.
This is the greatest threat to our nation in my living memory. The main stream TV news media are just ignoring it. It does not happen. George Orwell's 1984 is here in 2021.

Doug Longmire said...

Further thoughts:-

1/ He Puapua This plan spells out the destruction of Western democracy in New Zealand by 2040.
Specifically – abolishing our government, (voted democratically) by the general population, with a racist separatist dictatorship where the government is split on racial lines - HALF the government to be Maori (15% of the population), and the other half (representing 85% of the population) is voted in.

2/ Recent Court ruling that the entire seabed and foreshore, reaching out 12 miles to sea, is likely to be totally controlled by Maori.

3/ Recent recommendations to the government that DoC hand over total control of all wildlife/preservation/hunting and fishing ownership/administration to Maori.

4/ Health system:- Abolition of DHB’s, replaced by four Are Health Boards, plus one Maori Health Authority, which will have power of veto over all health funding and policy decisions in New Zealand.

This has all come to light recently. This is the Comrade Ardern plan for the destruction of our society, and it is happening now.
The plan is clear:- Maori will control everything
• our parliament
• our health system,
• all our coastline and fisheries, and all our native bush and forests.
Nothing left.for us 85% of New Zealanders

transpress nz said...

It will be a commercial decision to appeal to the wokerati who could represent as much as 30% of the free to air audience, depending on which TV channel it is, particularly at News time.. As long the advertisers don't exclude pale-skins on screen it shouldn't turn these off. The one occasion when a big commercial risk was taken was when KiwiBank included a Muslima wearing a hihab in its commercials after Jacinda's virtue signalling at public appearances in her hijabs in 2019. That could have turned off a lot of people.

Neil Keating said...

Karl, you'd better do a grovel about that romney ewes line or the breeders' association will accuse you of hate speech. baaaah!

Odysseus said...

"And just like that there were no more white folks on TV", as Forrest Gump might have said. Being the expensive whores they are, the advertising agencies are simply carrying out the wishes of their corporate accounts. Corporate wokery including "taking the knee" and all that b/s has become a useful, inexpensive tool for deflecting attention away from real issues like low wages, the abysmal treatment of staff or even profiting from slave labour in China.

Most of us do not expect truth in advertising. But we used to expect at least a semblance of it from our news media. That however has totally evaporated. Tova O'Brien's performance on TV3 "News" regarding the Reid poll on Sunday night must be the final nail in the coffin. Chris Trotter has this morning published a brilliant analysis of the propaganda and chicanery deployed in that programme in an attempt to stop any investigation into or debate about He Puapua:

You know you are in serious trouble when the media go to such lengths, including trying to destabilize the leadership of a major political party. R.I.P. New Zealand.

Desperado said...

Great post Karl. Just to add my little observation on kiwi adds having travelled the last five years around the world. In NZ adds kiwi males are nearly always presented as good hearted buffoons. And I notice the the kiwi adds strategy at the moment is to show us something emotional (such as a little boy being bullied and then helped, or a miscarrage) and then link a company to it such as Spark, or ASB.

In the States, they tell you how good the product is, here they make you feel something and use it to engender good emotion toward the company - its almost as though they think we are stupid...

David George said...

"here they make you feel something"
That's how propaganda works. If you make the mistake of watching our TV channels you see it all the time, and I don't mean the advertising. Our current affairs stories frequently and shamelessly propagandise - usually some lefty cause. The words, the music and the lighting are used to create an emotion that you then attach to the object of the story. You are being subliminally told what to think and feel.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johno said...

I wonder how long this crap will last before the pendulum swings back.

Martin Van Beynen, along with this blog's author, one of the few uncowed voices left, has had enough:

hughvane said...

I've said it before, and I think it bears repeating, that what has come to pass WILL pass, and we will see the Left and all its Klingons fade into the background before another resurgence some time in the future. Meanwhile, I suggest revisiting Garrick Tremain's cartoon page (a permanent link to it, Karl?), and focus on what the PM is saying about the un-mandated implementation of separatism that is occurring as we breathe.

Karl du Fresne said...

To "Unknown": I'm sorry, but your recent comments are just too long and impenetrable to post here. I can't imagine anyone reading them.

sooty said...

I hate regurgitated Australian ads,and stupid ones like old bats on
motorcycles filling up with petrol,idiots in green veluor lounging suits, sky divers, white waterrafting oldies selling insurance.if those are the best the adman can produce, the product owner should think, why bother!

Unknown said...

Not sure why advertising got so woke, but the reason for the sudden Maorification of news content this year resulted from guidelines issued earlier a few months ago which spelt out what content was required to qualify for government funding. See Public Interest Journalism Guidelines (.pdf)'

Leo said...

Karl, have you noticed this obsequious cowering to racist activists is so illustrated by the use of part-Maori actors in situations which would would usually be filled by non-Maori, and by the use of Caucasian actors in situations which are entirely dominated by part-Maoris, e.g., MacDonalds ?


Karl du Fresne said...

Can't say I'd noticed that specifically, Leo.