As I was strolling through my local mall, I noticed a sweet little girl of African descent, standing upright in a red and blue plaid coat, white hat and a sparkly backpack in her hand, smirking on the poster in the Original Marines store, which initially did not faze me in any way. However, after taking another look I began wondering: “What is the purpose of using a black model in marketing products to predominantly white society?” I couldn’t quite grasp the logic behind their marketing approach. It somehow seemed superfluous, meaningless… only, it wasn’t. There are plenty of good reasons for featuring a black child in their marketing campaign.
The answer as to why they chose to include a racially diverse model in their campaign could simply be because they have a uniform marketing strategy across all countries. They could just sit down each season and decide what their posters and catalogues are going to look everywhere and that would solve the mystery.
On the other hand, marketing is a serious, methodical and detail-oriented business that takes into account everything from the place, consumer habits, target groups, to the colors and fonts in their slogans. Knowing the high importance of good advertising, many companies hire marketing specialists who pay close attention to marketing their products in the most economically effective way possible. Putting a black child on the poster in my small, predominantly Caucasian town, may have been intentional after all.
What I mean by that is, Original Marines could’ve been seizing the opportunity to attract customers by presenting something different from what they are normally used to seeing in stores. Posters that have the ability to capture their attention and perhaps even make them stop and question the message behind it, are more likely to invite people to go into their stores and spend more money.
Their intention can, however, be altruistic as well. It could very well be true that they had inclusion in mind whilst striving to promote their brand and products. They could’ve wanted to simultaneously make the .001% feel seen and represented through their marketing. Advertising can absolutely be ethical if it focusses on the bigger picture rather than simply looking inwards into their spheres. We tend to forget that due to the impact of massive, heartless corporations making huge waves.
Now more than ever, we ought to be mindful of the message we project to young people, whether we are consumers or parts of large corporations. When children see themselves represented in the media, they are empowered to walk through the world with their head held high and grow into people who will then empower others to do the same. No matter if how low the percentage of racial diversity in a certain country or region may be, representation matters, inclusion matters. Furthermore, Caucasian children ought to see that white is not the only color that exists. They need to learn about the wide variety of shades and colors and bodies that exist in this wonderful world because that is going to teach them how to respect others who may be different from them.
I, for one, am in full support of Original Marines and other companies, for that matter, promoting inclusivity through their advertisements even in overwhelmingly Caucasian societies, even it is unintentional. Every bit of support helps our humanity flourish.