Blacks make up roughly one-eighth of the U.S. population. So why do they now seemingly comprise at least one-half of all people in TV commercials? Whites often grumble about this privately, but maybe they should go public. For the advertising industry’s obsession with casting blacks is more than affirmative action run wild. It is mental reprogramming designed to convince whites of their eventual demographic demise.
In the advertising industry, diversity and inclusion are red hot. Whether the medium is television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, or the Web, ad agencies and their corporate clients are fully on board with the Total Social Equality bandwagon. Sidelining whites, they believe, is good for business because it supposedly expands a company’s market reach. Television, which accounts for around 40 percent of all advertising expenditures in America, is the focal point. This is not your father’s Madison Avenue.
Industry entrepreneurs and analysts believe “diversity” is a corrective to white supremacy. Jazmin Burrell, a black “creative strategist” for Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat), explained, “The advertising industry is so white because it chooses to be.” She recalled, “I knew I wanted to use my voice to represent people who look like me” [This Black Woman Is Putting an End to the “Mad Men“ Era of Advertising, by Brittany King, PopSugar.com, April 21, 2018]. She’s getting her wish. Her consulting group, Lizzie Della Creative Strategies, has become a potent force for black commercial placements.
Daren Poole, an Australia-based advertising consultant, wants to reshape society as well as consumer tastes:
Rather than being a mirror on society, advertising has an ability to shape it. The very best creative [sic] cannot only sell products and build brand equity, it can change behaviours and shape society. Indeed, some consumers believe that advertising has been instrumental in creating and reinforcing negative stereotypes.
[The power of inclusion and diversity in advertising, by Daren Poole, Kantar, April 20, 2021]
In America, black overrepresentation in TV commercials is the Great Reset’s most visible manifestation, at least to those with a working TV set. Here are some rough, observable guidelines for producing a commercial: If three or more characters inhabit a scene, at least one of them must be black. If a commercial depicts a happy white family, it must also depict a happy black family. Interracial couples, married or not, should be cast where possible. Gatherings of friends must be multiracial and joyful.
Other “marginalized” race and gender groups, predictably, are getting in on the action. Salvador Ordorica [Tweet him], CEO of The Spanish Group LLC, this July provided this passel of egalitarian cliches for Forbes:
In recent years, the advertising industry has witnessed a much-needed shift toward embracing diversity and representation. Latin America, a region rich in cultural heritage and diversity, is no exception. Brands are realizing the importance of showcasing “real people” to better connect with their target audience. In doing so, they not only enhance their brand image but also promote inclusivity and equality.
[Bridging Cultures, Shaping Narratives: Embracing Diversity And Representation In Latin American Advertising, July 20, 2023]
The diversity obsession at times veers toward the preposterous, witness last year’s widely aired Botox commercial featuring two black lesbian couples among its parade of characters.
Whatever the product, be it Botox, a laundry detergent, a Caribbean ship cruise, or an erectile dysfunction cure, it is now virtually mandatory that blacks promote it.
Occasionally, whites openly notice. International journalist Ioannis Gatsiounis, writing in the Washington Times in 2019, remarked: “While statistics are hard to come by, we can say with confidence that blacks appear far in excess of their 13 percent of the population—so much so that if a foreigner had nothing to go on but our ads, she might reasonably conclude that America is a majority-African-American country” [When advertisers fetishize race, December 2, 2019]. Likewise, blogger Kerry Pechter that year opined: “Considering how frequently black actors and biracial couples appear in television and print advertising for financial products and services, a visitor to Earth from a distant galaxy might conclude that black Americans account for a significant portion of America’s moneyed class.”
This, mind you, was before the deification of George Floyd.
This syndrome had been visible well before that. In their 2000 book, The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America, political scientists Robert Entman and Andrew Rojecki found that of 1,620 sampled television ads airing on major networks, 32 percent contained at least one black. Many of the more recent commercials don’t simply include blacks; they give them sole billing—like this commercial spot for Applebee’s.
Black ad placement is about image and status, not just numbers. Almost invariably, the blacks depicted are Cosby Show-wholesome, affable and upper-middle-class. Ghetto types don’t figure into this business strategy, as their presence no doubt would validate “right-wing” stereotypes.
Why is this happening? Part of explanation lies in the interplay between corporate sponsors and advertising agencies, each a champion of racial egalitarianism. Sometimes the sponsor controls the relationship, instructing the agency on what a commercial should look and sound like. Sometimes it is the other way around, with the agency explaining to the sponsor that casting blacks can maximize sales potential.
Yet there are other compelling reasons for this diversity explosion.
First, there is the industry demography. Blacks long have been a part of the advertising world. Well-established black-owned agencies include Vince Cullers Advertising, Burrell Communications, Mingo Jones, Lockhart & Pettus, Global Hue, and Equinox. These firms use their connections and negotiating skills to persuade clients to include blacks. For them, diversity is about collective loyalty as much as career advancement. Moreover, women now constitute a majority of advertising/public relations managers and employees. Thus, blacks and females, whose politics generally lean decisively leftward, control how we buy and sell things.
Second, commercials are a frequent first step in an acting career—and a Screen Actors Guild card. Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Mark Ruffalo and Stanley Tucci are just some of today’s prominent movie actors who started out doing TV ads. The backstory here is that during the George Floyd riots, Black Lives Matter radicals pressured SAG-AFTRA to boost black membership. Naturally, the union obliged them. “The most common way for an actor to get Taft-Hartleyed into the union is via commercials,” notes Takimag [The Week That Perished, July 23, 2023]. “So all those black faces in TV and online ads, that was hundreds of black actors being fast-tracked to union membership.” The current SAG-AFTRA/Writers’ Guild strike is in part a legacy of that shakedown.
Third, the immigration-driven reduction in the nation’s white population (from 88.6 percent in 1960 to 59.3 percent in 2021) serves as a convenient pretext for instituting racial replacement in commercials. Ad agencies can claim that this is a rational response to shifting consumer demand, especially given the natural tendency of viewers to bond with characters of their own race. Whites, they admonish, should “prepare” for further demographic shifts—as if the relative decline of whites were a law of nature rather than a consequence of decades of misguided laws, policies, enforcement practices and court rulings.
Fourth, many Americans perceive minority groups to be far larger than they really are. In a Gallup Poll conducted in March 2001, respondents on average stated that 33 percent of the U.S. population is black, far above the 2000 Census figure of 12.3 percent. The overall estimate of Hispanics was 29 percent, compared to the actual 12.5 percent. Public ignorance, if anything, has gotten worse. In two YouGov polls released in 2022, the composite figure for blacks was 41 percent. Respondents also laughably overestimated the share of Hispanics, Catholics, Texans, Californians, first-generation immigrants and homosexuals. Apparently, 30 percent of all Americans are Jews, and 27 percent are Muslims. Really?
This final factor has dangerous implications. People who wildly overestimate the presence of minority groups may be highly susceptible to seeing diversity-immersed television commercials as an acknowledgment of reality and a rectification of historical injustice. Aware of the mismatch of perception and fact, ad agencies and their clients would have every incentive to double down.
In the larger picture, the transformation of advertising into a multicultural jamboree underscores the impossibility of racial “equity.” A race, as Sam Francis recognized, does not seek equality with other races except as a means of achieving short-term gains. The long game is always dominance. Blacks are no exception.
Ludicrously, diversity boosters are scolding the advertising industry for not doing enough. Christopher Boulton, communications professor at the University of Tampa, issued this prim rebuke in July 2020: “[W]hen it comes to feigning change while continuing to marginalize Black lives and maintain white power, advertising has a long record as a repeat offender. And nothing demonstrates that more clearly than the ongoing, striking lack of diversity in the advertising industry itself” [Corporate ads said Black Lives Matter. But the industry creating them is nearly all white., by Christopher Boulton, NBC, July 18, 2020]. Less petulantly, Shereta Williams, a member of the Forbes Technology Council, argued: “For the advertising industry, a diverse, equitable future won’t be easy, but I believe it’s a vital mission—and thankfully, one which new tools are at our disposal to help” [Improving Diversity And Inclusion In Advertising, Forbes, July 25, 2019].
Critics like these needn’t worry. The industry already has been “fixing” the problem. In 2016, for example, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) launched an initiative called the Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), whose mission is to “reverse the downward trend of multicultural and inclusive marketing by empowering marketers to accurately portray cultural diversity and richness in today’s marketing efforts.” Four years later, the ANA developed a list of “Certified Diverse Suppliers for Marketing and Advertising” after discovering that while 75 percent of ANA member firms had strategic plans to hire “diverse” suppliers, only 40 percent had related marketing and advertising strategies in place (the horror!). The list followed the release of a proposal, “ANA/AIMM Commitment to Equality, Inclusion and System Change.”
Television advertising is a diversity racket. Indeed, outside of the NFL and NBA, it is hard to imagine any segment of our society in which overrepresentation of blacks is this extreme. At least in pro sports there are tangible metrics of performance that enable teams to evaluate talent. This cannot be said for advertising, where black overload is arbitrary, has nothing to do with competitive excellence, and makes no business sense.
The ultimate issue is not economics but power. Underneath the artificially constructed depictions of “togetherness” is psyops warfare. Agencies that produce television commercials, corporations that buy them, and networks that air them are telling whites: Your days are numbered. You won’t be the majority for much longer. Many whites, regrettably, have internalized this message.
“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness,” declared Jon Hamm’s lead character Don Draper in HBO’s acclaimed hit series Mad Men (2007-15), set in an ad agency in the 1960s. Draper understood that selling requires manipulating emotions. Advertising still does this. Only now it has added a new feature to its business plan: Make whites unhappy—and less visible.
Carl Horowitz [Email him] is a veteran Washington, D.C.-area writer on immigration and other issues