Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pondering "no urban" and "no Hispanic" dictates...

I’m sitting here working on my second cup of coffee and listening to the news.

In a couple of hours SCOTUS will issue their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act.

I could write about that, but I just don’t have the strength to ponder the demise or survival of a law that has had a positive life-changing impact on so many people I know.  Add to that the fact that I spent serious political activism time working on that shit…well, let’s just say that the last thing this bitch wants to do is think about all that work going down the toilet and having to start from jump again.

The US House is fixin’ to vote along party lines to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress.

I could write about that…and I probably will, but I think I’ll wait for those assholes to officially shit the bed later today.

What to do…what to do?

Hold up.

Shall we?

Many moons ago, this bitch used to work in advertising.

Specifically, I used to sell ads on radio for a massive…huge…giant national radio group that went through more ownership changes than I care to remember.

I was very good at the job. 

I was also one of the only people of color working at our company.  If you’re a fan of Mad Men you’ve seen how white the office is – trust me when I say that, for an industry charged with marketing products to a diverse nation, advertising has all the diversity of John Hughes film (translation – none).

So, when I first encountered the overt racism of the “no urban” dictate I was flying solo in my criticism.

My client was the #1 station in all key demographics in a top 10 city.  That means white listeners were tuning in too, because black people only made up 30% of the city population at best.  The station’s listeners had a healthy adult income and thus I should have been sitting pretty selling the hell out of it.

And I would have been…but for the power of the no-urban dictate.

I encountered a sea of no urban dictates from brands and products I still struggle to purchase even after a decade of being out of the business.

I’m not talking about not being able to sell the station to an ad agency representing a niche luxury brand.

I’m talking about being told that a restaurant whose most expensive item is $15 sending out a request for bids with “no urban (black) stations need apply” written on it clear as day and without shame.

There I was with the #1 station and no one wanted to dance.

No urban (black) and no Hispanic dictates are not about good advertising.  They are about racist and bigoted advertising…agencies that lack the courage to tell their clients that they are shooting their own foot by dissing the purchase power of minorities simply because those clients see consumers of color as unflattering and undesirable…and consumers of color who generally have no idea that they are shopping in a store that’ll take their money even though they think those consumers are unflattering and undesirable.

The lack of resistance to the overt racism of no urban and no Hispanic dictates is one of the reasons I left advertising.

But the cold hard reality is that Advertising as an industry is where the change needs to come from followed closely by those industries and companies that place ads.

And all you have to do is take a good look at the demographics of the average ad agency or corporate marketing department to see that we’re probably going to see a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime before we see change come from within.

Having said that, I applaud the FCC’s move.  If nothing else it took those dictates out of the closet. 

Shop accordingly, my friends!

***logs off the get this day of political drama started***


DesertRose said...

Can you say who was giving these "no urban/no Spanish" dictates? I'd like to avoid giving bigots my custom if at all possible.

joemillerjd said...

This is the most significant commercial media diversity ruling in many years. Change can come within if leading companies include no-urban and no-Spanish dictates as part of their training programs.

joemillerjd said...

This is the most significant commercial media diversity ruling in many years. Media and advertising companies can promote change from within by educating salespeople and agency reps about no-Urban and no-Spanish dictates through their training programs. I am sure their training programs are replete with frivolous information. Certainly they could include this.

D. said...

Huh. I hadn't noticed that (I mostly tune out commercials-as-commercials except as artwork, but that's another story) although now that you mention it, did I ever see an ad for Afro Sheen except on Soul Train?

But what even I had to notice after a really long time was that the radio station I used to love a) ran a lot of beer, wine, and booze ads, b) played very few black artists, even the ones admitted to the canon (we're talking 3 standard Hendrix cuts and making sure to remind listeners that Eddie van Halen played on "Beat It"), and 3) played very few women.

Now. I subscribed to Esquire and Car and Driver in the '70s. I don't really care what demographic they're trying to reach as long the content is interesting to me, and I seriously loathe attempts to pander to who marketers think I am. But sometime in '84 one of the djs let the mask slip, and some of the marketing students that hung out at the office where I worked dropped the tidbit about beer ads, and I took a course in marketing and demographics 7 or 8 years ago.

See, it has never seemed to me to be worth it to target your market so tightly that you're repelling everyone else.

And I don't get "Don't let thosepeople near our ads."--do they really imagine that they can keep their (dubious) service/product secret or something?

(Another reason to eschew libertarianism, by the way.)

Shark-Fu said...

Desert Rose...
I haven't sold broadcast in over a decade so I can speak for who does it now.

And I signed a confidentiality agreement...not that I fear the law or anything.

What I can say is that there were major mainstream national retailers and chain restaurants and brands who had no urban and no Hispanic dictates.

If you listen to the radio or watch television you'll notice who runs where. What most folks don't realize is the why behind it.

jsb16 said...

The best way to discourage the "no urban/no Spanish" dictates might be to publish those contracts on the webs somehow.

I don't think think the people who insist on not advertising on black/hispanic media think they can keep their products secrets. I think they overestimate the racism of the white demographic they're targeting, more "what if the white folks find out we advertised on a black station" than "what if the black folks found out about our product". Now, they might get some of that reaction (look at some of the reaction to the Pride Oreos ad), but really, if a cheap restaurant chain hasn't lost its white customers because there are black folks in the restaurants themselves, they won't lose them because they advertise on black radio stations. But admitting that would also mean admitting that they wouldn't get cooties from being 'associated' with blacks/hispanics.

And we know rich white men are deathly afraid of cooties.

Anonymous said...

Take your own money and advertise where you think it will produce sales. Because if you find a way to make me spend mine, I will then find a way to make you make pick cotton on my plantation. Coercion is a two-way street.

Shark-Fu said...



Anonymous, you need to take Advertising 101.

But hey, thanks for making it clear what the sentiment is behind those dictates!

Now get thee gone, son. There's a rock desperate to feel you snuggling underneath it again.


Kang White said...

you wrote something that i don't really understand..

But I guess this is really nice post.

Thanks for sharing

kev2m6 said...

Of course. All this racism happening but you have no idea who the bigots are. Let me guess, they are rich and employ lots of people? Sadly, diversity has become a requirement, whether or not successful doesnt matter. If minorities arent included in something, its knee jerk racism with some people who look for racism everywhere. It used to be skinheads and neo nazis where racists, and rightfully so, now a man who was having his pounded into the ground who defended himself by shooting his attacker is racist, even though he is Puerto Rican.

Shark-Fu said...


A dictate that states no black radio station may be purchased to market a product that anyone and everyone can afford...and an industry that goes along with that even though these dictates apply in markets where black (urban) radio stations are ranked #1 with adults 25 to 54 years old...well, that's racist with a dash of stupid thrown in to the mix.

As for your other point...those don't exactly apply to the post do they?

Unless you're announcing that grown men shooting unarmed black teens is a new product. Not exactly new, though...but Lawd knows retro-bigotry is always in fashion. But yeah...that's one case where you should include a no urban dictate with a radio buy.


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