Archive for December, 2008

Remember the sesame st song?  

I look around my neighbourhood and it’s pretty diverse, even for a relatively conservative part of the political capital of New Zealand. New Zealand’s population, our communities, are changing. We’re becoming more multi-cultural, less parochial and thanks in part to the internet,  less isolated.

Yet if you glanced at the majority of corporate produced publications and websites, you’d think we’re all white and middle class with a sprinkling of Asians and an occasional indiscriminate brown face.  And the brown faces tend to be doing blue-collar jobs if they’re in ‘work’ shots at all.

I was looking at some photography the other day meant for ‘business’ customers when this really hit home.  I then did a search on bank and insurance websites and it was the same – white middle class people with a few Asians.

Now I know that there are plenty of TV and other advertisements that do have a better and more realistic representation of our changing community, but we have a long way to go.  And as I was contemplating the implications of this, I thought back to when I lived in Japan many years ago, and how I was impervious to advertisements on the whole.  This wasn’t because I couldn’t understand the language – let’s face it most ads get by on imagery and brand alone – it was because I didn’t instantly relate or connect to the people in the ads.  They weren’t like me.

It may sound vain.  Maybe it is.  There were ads in Japan of course with Caucasian people – celebrities endorsing products they wouldn’t be caught dead with aligning themselves with in the US.  But it’s more I think to do with recognising something of ourselves in the person in the ad – or finding an association with that person.

So I wonder how well these companies are doing in marketing their products to our Maori and Pacific people in NZ.  Perhaps they should pause to look at their marketing material and the images and stereotypes they’re portraying.

Siobhan Bulfin 


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