February 13, 2014

Demographics behind Winter Olympics advertising

Here's a question about the Winter Olympics: what percentage of competitors don't have at least one parent who is big into some winter sport?

Part of the appeal of the Winter Olympics to advertisers is that a huge number of moms watch it, in part because they like seeing the successful products of nice families who engaged in a lot of (not inexpensive) family fun together.

The commercials are so mom-oriented that they can drive viewers crazy, although marketers seem to be doing a little better job this time of preparing variations on the commercials instead of just repeating the same one over and over. (I can still almost repeat the 1972 Summer Olympics Irish Spring soap commercial word for word -- of course, that was the plan. Now that I think about it, I probably have some Irish Spring soap in the closet today, right next to the Ricola cough drops I've been buying since watching 500 repetitions of their Swiss alpenhorn ad (1:03) on CNN during the Gulf War.)

For example, above is a long Kellogg's breakfast cereal commercial about teenage ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. First, she explains that there's no such thing as "a recreational ski-jumper," and then her father explains that his longest ski jump was only 60 meters. Then we learn that she first got into ski-jumping as a child because her brother did it.

And here is Sarah's Visa credit card commercial with voice-over by Amelia Earhart that's another in a long line of what I call Patriotic Feminist advertising:
You see, among American corporations, there has long been a huge demand for Feminist Barrier Shattering to incorporate into TV commercials. The problem is that almost all the barriers were shattered a long time ago. Fortunately, there are a few obscure holdouts, such as ski-jumping, that can be still hunted down and slain with great publicity. Some European ski-jumping muckety-mucks were quoted worrying publicly about lack of depth of competition among women, women getting badly injured, and, privately, about anorexia, which has been problem among male jumpers. 

There's nothing that Corporate America loves more than American women challenging European sexism, as the periodic women's national team soccer fads have demonstrated.

One reason for this sounds paradoxical: female athletes in obscure sports, the ones that aren't part of public school sports programs like basketball, almost always have fathers in their lives, at minimum paying a lot of bills, and often living out their sporting ambitions through their daughters.

In contrast, daughters of today's much valorized Single Moms tend to be more focused upon becoming as much like Kim Kardashian as possible.

And, though they'd never ever admit it in so many words, advertisers aren't all that interested in the Single Mom market because they have less money to spend.

[This is the point where I got thrown off track by looking up skier Julia Mancuso's family background.]

The sweet spot for advertisers is married women with children whose husbands make six figures.

So the Winter Olympics are ideal for advertisers because so many of the sports are the kind that affluent families partake of.

But a problem for advertisers is that they really, really like to put at least one African American into each ad, no matter how improbable, but sports that draw from prosperous intact families seem kind of racist to blacks. So if that black speedskater from Chicago doesn't hurry up and win something, advertisers are going to be hurting for the 2018 winter games. But they'll come up with something.

The actual details of these inspiring Patriotic Feminist stories where enlightened Americans overcome Norwegian sexism aren't important. For example, Sarah Hendrickson did indeed have a horrible crash awhile ago and has yet to fully recover. (Olympians get drug tested more than NFL players, so they don't make as fast recoveries as football players have recently been doing: e.g., Lindsey Vonn isn't at these Olympics more than a year after her big injury.)

And, if you watch the VISA commercial of Hendrickson's stick figure flying, it's pretty clear that she's got some kind of anorexia-like problem that's interfering with her recovery from her knee injuries (just like those horrible sexist Europeans said).

Of course, as we saw during the 2012 Summer Olympics, nobody notices nuthin' about how odd various celebrities look.

Summer Olympians tend to be ultraspecialized in shape, except for the occasional pole vaulter or decathlete. Because the competition is less fierce for the Winter Olympics, at least for now the athletes tend to be more good-looking sportsmen and sportswomen in the old-fashioned mode. Which advertisers don't mind.
   

34 comments:

Dan said...

The ads containing blacks I've seen in almost every ad break are cringe worthy.

It almost looks deliberate. A poke in the eye if you will.

Anonymous said...

Lolo Jones is in these games and if she actually wins something next week, it could help.

Of course, she's never really been marketed to blacks more to middle america.

But, she's there now so it couldn't hurt any, especially if she actually medals.

Anonymous said...

The ads containing blacks I've seen in almost every ad break are cringe worthy.

It almost looks deliberate. A poke in the eye if you will.


I always wonder about the advertising meetings. Do they actually talk about putting blacks in seemingly every single commercial? Are they even aware of it?

Anonymous said...

And then there's Chevy, which seems to have decided that every ad for the Winter Olympics needs to have some gay affirmation in it. That's the way to sell Silverados to guys with daughters who play hockey!

Klaus said...

The media siezes upon the angle of the feminist pioneer, no matter how interesting other angles might be. In the all the adulatory stories I've read about Sheryl Sandberg, there is not the remote suggestion of a need to respond to the idea, or even entertain the possibility of the thought, that she might have benefitted from the influence of Jewish ethnic networking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Lolo Jones is in these games and if she actually wins something next week, it could help.

Of course, she's never really been marketed to blacks more to middle america.

But, she's there now so it couldn't hurt any, especially if she actually medals."

Wouldn't they have to put some kind of disclaimer in the ad: "Here is Lolo Jones. Despite not looking like one, she is a Black woman. The NAACP says so. Remember the one drop rule."

Anonymous said...

During the Super Bowl there was a commercial for some German car company where "every time a [car brand] is bought a German engineer gets his wings." Then a bunch of shots of stuffy German men in white coats sprouting wings. For some reason a couple of the so called German engineers were black. I'm still scratching my head on that one.

Then again, Tom Cruise was the last samurai and I didn't think twice about it. 12 Years a Slave could have improved their Oscar chances by casting Tom Hanks in the lead role.

Anonymous said...

Lolo Jones is black?

Next you'll telling us that Russell Wilson is black too.

Anonymous said...

Whatever else you can say, I've been watching all the freestyle events and literally 85 percent of both men and women are genuinely handsome/beautiful. I'm not sure how to explain that except that wealthier people tend to be better looking on average. But not that much...

Anonymous said...

Watch any commercial and if it has more then three white guys in it, they are always accompanied by a black as the fourth guy. Seems to be a quota. But it is not true in real life.

Anonymous said...

People will look back and laugh at these "magic black people" commercials, like we do at cigarette commercials from the 50's. Actually, I wonder what foreigners think of them now ...

Anonymous said...

In the UK the trend for TV advertising is to have a happy black and white couple. Black male and white female, usually.

Nothing to do with the winter olympics maybe but it is the trend the ad agencies prefer. So I have seen on my TV mixed race couples buying sofas, saving money, going on vacation. The reality in the UK is a lot of white women who marry men of colour is they come from poorer environments and are less likely to do the things shown in the TV ads. But no one said TV was real...

David said...

>cringe worthy. It almost looks deliberate. A poke in the eye<

It's deliberately annoying. Notice how every close-up of a black is with a ~200mm lens while whites get a less "in your face" ~100mm.

Among the black faces, the ugliest one gets a linger. Every time.

It's like the 22 year old Scots-Irish editors are saying, "Look at them. Look at them. We'll be sure you get a good look, you whitebread bamsticks."

Anonymous said...

First rule of advertising: every ad must have a black in.

First rule of Hollyweird: at least a third of films must be about slavery. The white masters are to a man psychopaths and the black slaves are to a man wise angels. There should be some obvious parallel to shoah.

Anonymous said...

Forget the fake minorities, how about the insanely idiotic SWPLs in the Samsung ad... Similar to all lame Samsung ads, goes to great extents to make you think Twittering about figure skaters on your phone is a really hep pastime

sphere said...

Yep, you know things have gotten bad when you're hearing the voices of "22 year old Scots-Irish editors" inside your head

Anonymous said...

Very noticeable trend in the past few months, of course it is deliberate but interested how and who makes the decision.

Anonymous said...

I don't have cable and our HD broadcast antenna only gets a handful of channels, so I practically never watch TV.

a. The NBC Primetime coverage of the olympics is ABYSMAL

b. The advertising is very new-amerika

c. P&G is a "proud sponsor of moms" ...

d. I'm really, really glad I don't watch TV. I hope none of you with kids let them watch TV for too long at a time.

Uncle Elmer said...

Speaking of breakfast cereal ads, there's an angle you could explore which might be titled "The Cheerios Cycle", which relates to packaged food corporations making money foisting synthifoods on the EBT market. You could be the man to rip the lid off this huge fleecing of taxpayer money.

General Mills makes big money pushing low-nutrition cereal (at huge markup) through EBT-accepting convenience store outlets in disadvantaged communities. To add insult to injury, these products require consumption of milk, which is anathema to African-Americans.

These convenience stores are exempt from reporting publicly the percentage of their business resulting from EBT transacactions.

The blog of Kevin Hunt, social media manager in Global Communications for General Mills :

http://blog.generalmills.com/author/kevin_hunt/

The ad agency perps for the recent Cheerios ad, soon to be a TV series called “The Mulattoes” :

Client: Cheerios/General Mills
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
Director: Matt Smukler
Production Company: Community Films

So here is how the scam works : General Mills rakes in money, then produces a "teaching moment" inter-racial commercial to hilite their diversity cred, then makes payola to outlets like Salon who find the chance to decry racism ("some racist whites don't like the ad") irresistable. The whole operation meant to deflect notice that the corporation is making a killing selling tiny boxes of cereal at huge markup through convenience stores.

It's a racket. But their mistake is drawing attention to themselves by courting controversy. Gangster managers don't like publicity, and this recent attempt to paint themselves as progressive do-gooders could well end up with a few execs floating in the East River.

Uncle Elmer said...

And here are the ad agency drones who created the award-winning Cheerios morality ad :

http://saatchiny.com/ny-us/people/our-team-leaders/brent-smart/

Looks like they have a bit of a diversity problem!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Lolo Jones is black?

Next you'll telling us that Russell Wilson is black too."

Russell Wilson is a lot Blacker looking than Lolo Jones. My dad did not know that Lolo was "Black" (Blackish?) until I told him.

Anonymous said...

David:"It's like the 22 year old Scots-Irish editors are saying, "Look at them. Look at them. We'll be sure you get a good look, you whitebread bamsticks."

Sphere:"Yep, you know things have gotten bad when you're hearing the voices of "22 year old Scots-Irish editors" inside your head"

Are we back to that juvenile "Scots-Irish is code for Jewish people" game? We are all adults here. Use grown-up language.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

The ads containing blacks I've seen in almost every ad break are cringe worthy.

It almost looks deliberate. A poke in the eye if you will.

I always wonder about the advertising meetings. Do they actually talk about putting blacks in seemingly every single commercial? Are they even aware of it?

2/13/14, 5:35 PM"

Of course they are aware of it, the BBC call it BlOnC which is Black On Camera Don't get enough and you lose you nice little media job.

Gordo

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Your point is very well known in the media world, thanks captain obvious.

I worked for an internet advertising firm focused on strategy, content creation, and ad placements for niche segments.

Demand is huge for advertising that actually reaches the right types of moms (white middle class and upper class women). These are some of the most lucrative contracts. "Mom" and "baby" based keywords and searches used to be huge on google, yahoo, and other search engines.

Then the wrong type of people started to search for Mom/Baby based products such as diapers, formula, baby products, etc. The advertisers were no longer reaching white middle class women on their PCs at home, but instead diverse moms on their obamaphone smartphones in the middle of nowhere, a far lower conversion for advertisers. This demographic does not convert and destroys advertising campaigns.

About 5 years ago, companies started to move from in-house advertising to outsourcing their ad budgets to specialty advertisers like the firm I used to work at. Mom/Baby advertising is extremely competitive, and its driven by avoiding diversity. Search advertising is no longer king in this segment, specialty Mom sites and blogs are key content drivers now.

I can assure you P&G are getting money's worth targeting the correct type of person, regardless of how corny those ads are. Unfortunately, due to the extremely competitive nature of the industry, advertising costs are high and these ad budgets are ultimately being imputed in product price, leading to higher products costs for baby products and the such.

Diversity drives the economy!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite realistic commercial these days ... because black kids always put a canoe on their car when they visit the family lakehouse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmzmdi7Sqgc

Sword said...

----
Dan said...
The ads containing blacks I've seen in almost every ad break are cringe worthy.

It almost looks deliberate. A poke in the eye if you will.
-----
Well, in the first ad linked by Steve, the onscreen people are Sarah Hendrickson herself, her parents, and her coach. All 4 Caucasian. In the 2nd ad, the only onscreen person is Sarah, with a voiceover by Amelia Earhart - 2 Caucasian people.

Anonymous said...

Antiwhitemedia.com

Sadly the site is dormant, if anyone knows who owns it, tell them to pull their finger out.

peterike said...

I always wonder about the advertising meetings. Do they actually talk about putting blacks in seemingly every single commercial? Are they even aware of it?

I was going to wonder the exact same thing. Surely there is somebody in the iSteve audience that stealthily works in the advertising world and can shed light on this?

It may all just be so ingrained in SWPLs at this point that they simply assume the necessity of multi-culting everything. But still, somebody has to say "go hire three white guys and a black dude for this commercial." Somewhere a decision is made, a conscious decision.

David said...

sphere!

LOL.

But, I do know people like that (ok, closer to age 32...well, make it closer to 36). It's not quite as weird as you seem to think. Or maybe my world is a little weird.

pat said...

Didn't you have a posting recently on the health hazards of ski jumping? Or was it parachute jumping and the comments section just spread over into ski jumping?

In any case, ski jumping is bad for you. Parents who encourage their kids to ski jump risk prosecution in the future for child abuse. In the recent Super Bowl frenzy the sports interviewers asked these old geezer football stars who all had crippling arthritis if they would encourage their own children to play football. None of them enthusiastically assented - most gave a flat out no.

A lot of sports are bad for you. We can all appreciate Mohammed Ali's brain damage when he speaks in public. We can see Randy Couture's deformed ears in his action movies. But traumatic arthritis is harder to spot. Let's see a retired ski jumper dance on camera. That should be so horrific that parents would forever protect their kids from jumping.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

BBC presenters were tut-tutting one morning about the appalling sexism that prevented women ski-jumping for so long.

Then I changed to the BBC radio sports channel, which was enthusing about the delightfully named Chemmy Alcott finishing 19th in the women's downhill.

"A great achievement, when you consider she's only just recovered from her fourth leg fracture - one of 40 fractures in her career, including a broken spine"

NOTA said...

anon 7:58:

Young, healthy, athletic, and rich--all those correlate with being attractive.

Anonymous said...

I was sickingly amazed at how many anti-racism movies my 5th graders could rattle off in a lesson given by our county DAs. These are kids who had never cut a snowflake before. SS

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite realistic commercial these days ... because black kids always put a canoe on their car when they visit the family lakehouse.

Yeah that commercial really goes against so many stereotypes, it's hard to count.

It's the left's version of the 1950s 'Leave it to Beaver' or 'Father knows Best'.