The future of media may be a time warp to the 1950s.
It’s been 36 years since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., 58 years since the bus incident with Rosa Parks and 150 years since Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery. Yet, it’s only been 6 months since Cheerios proved that racism still stands strong today.
Since Cheerios opened that unintended firestorm and controversy, Swiffer disables comments from the beginning to avoid mass insults and mob mentality. And whether strategic to pull at heartstrings or as a distractor to color, Publicis Kaplan Thaler takes things to another level by including an amputee.
Unlike the Cheerio’s spot using actors, PKT uses a real family in a documentary-style video. Zach Rukavina, the husband and father in the spot, lost his arm to cancer and his amputation is key to the story of the commercial – and he cracks a couple jokes about how he’s still a better cleaner than his wife. Though the commercial pulls so many levers at the same time, which may leave itself vulnerable to cynicism, the spot’s realism may be more of a deterrent to criticism. However, realism didn’t help this black dad and his interracial kids.
I applaud Swiffer. They risk their brand in part of a larger movement. Polarizing statements may cause great support from one side and an equal amount of heat from the other. JCPenney had pulled a similar stunt with Ellen DeGeneres. Unfortunately though, after rehiring former CEO, Mike Ullman, JCPenney may step away from their support. But that’s an entirely different story.
Advertisements are a reflection of today’s culture. So it only makes sense that more and more interracial couples are shown in today’s media. Since more non-traditional couples are featured in ads, hopefully the shock of seeing mixed couples, same-gendered, reversed gender-roles, couples with wide age gaps or even a combination of the above can become more desensitized.
Where things go from here is yet to be determined, but we can hope that progress continues to be ahead of us.