Sunday, May 6, 2012
I must admit this ad bugs me. I thought about writing this post back in February when it originally aired during the Super Bowl. At a time when the country is struggling to attract young people to STEM fields, particularly women, Latinos and African Americans, it is disturbing that this ad featured none of the above. The premise of the ad is to highlight folks who have created or invented technology that has changed the way we live. But it fails to depict one person of color or a woman for that matter. How can this be? Where is IBM’s Mark Dean? Where is Roy Clay of Hewlett Packard?
I decided not to write the post in February. But, today as I was working out I saw the commercial again and again it irritated me. To be fair this is not meant to pick on Best Buy most tech ads share this same point of view. I do not recall seeing a brown or black hand swiping across an iPhone screen since that product has debuted. And yes I am aware of the new Apple ad that features Samuel L. Jackson (the actor), but he is in the usual role as a consumer.
The problem is that African Americans, Latinos and Women are severely underrepresented in technology. We know this. We also know there is an effort underway now to attract underrepresented minorities to technology fields. It has been documented that one of the reasons they are underrepresented is due to a lack of role models in their communities.
One way to do that would be to show these groups folks that look like them participating in the production, invention and creation of these world-changing products. Of course these business can do whatever they wish in their ads and feature whomever they desire. This is not to say that all commercials exhibit this trend, but certainly most of them do. Either minorities are omitted from the conversation as is the case in the Best Buy ad or we are in our usual rapping and singing mode. Do you remember the dancing grandma in the Verizon commercial for their Rezound Smartphone?
Are there not any African Americans, Women or Latino’s who have contributed to this space? If so, would it not do wonders for young women, young African Americans, and young Latino’s to see them featured prominently as creators of cool technology the way they see ball players and rappers?