The #RepresentationMatters conversation came to a head for film and TV casting, but it’s just as important in political advertising.
As we enter 2020, the Democratic primary field remains quite wide. Candidates and organizers are trying to gain traction in anyway they can. And in early caucus or primary states and battleground states, the candidates and ramping up their spending to entice voters to the polls in their favor.
As campaigns and organizations purchase ad space on TV, radio, and social media, many consultants and directors are putting representation at the center of their candidate introduction and image ads.
Casting Controversies in Hollywood and Beyond
The #RepresentationMatters conversation has been coming to a head in Hollywood in recent years. Stories have emerged about gender equity, whitewashing, blackface and
yellowface from questionable past casting decisions. (Like, really – could anyone buy Emma Stone as being Asian American?)
And it’s flooding over into the world of advertising, too. During Advertising Week 2019, executives from media and analytics powerhouse Nielsen spoke about the importance of representation – in all forms – in advertising mediums.
“It’s imperative for media companies to include people from all walks of life in their efforts toward true representation. In addition to racial and ethnic diversity, representation in media must also include same gender couples, women, children, elders and people with disabilities both on and off the screen…”
Advertisers Who Are Doing It Right
David’s Bridal recently ran a campaign entitled “Rewrite The Rules” featuring a same-sex couple with two brides and a couple that had already started their family, pre-marriage.
Coca-Cola’s 2018 Super Bowl commercial was focused mainly on diversity and inclusion.
It’s been refreshing to see some brands smashing gender stereotypes, too. I really loved the Dad in the Tide commercial talking about laundry and attending his daughter’s tea party, among many others.
Invite Folx To The Table
One way that creatives and advertisers are addressing the call for diversity and inclusion in advertising is by involving diverse voices in the creative process. Laverne Cox, star of Orange Is The New Black, spoke with AdAge about having diversity in the writer’s rooms and at the table with decision-makers.
We know that Democrats need to build strength in diverse communities and with women in order to gain momentum and win the 2020 election, so what can political advertisers do to take on this challenge?
Three Ways Political Advertisers Can Avoid Missing The Mark
- Cast actors that look like America, TODAY. Look for on-camera actors that represent the diversity of the country. People of color. Americans with disabilities. Non-binary and transgender individuals. LGBTQ+ couples. Men and women of different shapes and sizes. Veterans. Think beyond the “standard” nuclear American family on milquetoast Main Street, USA.
- Find someone else besides Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman-types to read your voiceover copy. Engage freelance millennial talents. Seek out and hire voice actors from diverse backgrounds. Include women in a spec and don’t default to a male voice. Step outside of the booming “announcer” box and get your copy read by some talents that sound like real people.
- Bring diverse voices and perspectives to the table. You’d be surprised what a different set of eyes might recognize. We digest things based on our backgrounds and you can’t possibly imagine how every single person will receive your message. Go beyond a traditional focus group and include outside perspectives earlier in the process. If you don’t, you might end up like South Dakota with a half-million-dollar joke on your hands.
Maria Pendolino is a professional freelance voiceover actor and the talent coordinator for BlueWaveVoiceover.com. She is proudly dedicated to voicing for Democrats and progressives in the 2020 election cycle. In her not-so-spare time, Maria created MillennialVoiceover.com, a hub that focuses on helping brands and companies “Speak Millennial.” You can find Maria’s voice on television, radio, streaming media platforms and on social media. Check out more of Maria’s work at www.voicebymaria.com. Maria was proud to be named to the 2019 class of 40 Under 40 in the Buffalo-Niagara region. She has also won two Voice Arts Awards for her voiceover work. Maria and her husband Eric, The Map Nerd, live in Buffalo. She is a member of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and is active with the Ten Lives Club cat rescue organization. You can hit her up via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @mariapendo.