I don’t follow any brands on social media. That doesn’t mean I don’t see ad campaigns, though. It does mean that I studiously ignore a lot of content that does not directly relate to my interests of the moment. My eyes are drawn to car deals, vacation spots, and occasionally movie ads (I am a sucker for a good trailer!)
This time of year is bountiful for me. As Labor Day rolls in, there are plenty of sales and all the fall and winter movies. I have also been inundated with plenty of the ubiquitous back to school campaigns. In my feeds, Target and Walmart are the biggest offenders. What attracted me about the clothing campaigns, and by extension, the print and broadcast tv advertisements, are the diversity shown in the choice of models.
I recognize that both companies are in the business of making money, and by demonstrating their products in use by a wide swath of examplars, they maximize the potential population of customers who can see themselves using their products. As little as five years ago, seeing a person of color in a national ad company was worthy of note. Today, Target and Walmart use models of multiple ethnic origins, various disabiltiies, and LGBTQ-friendly appearance. There has been a lot written (for example) about the value and power of seeing ‘like-me’ personas in the media. The impact is felt by the models as well.
I wish I’d had mainstream role models in the early stages of my disability journey, people that I didn’t have to hunt down on social media or hear about in support networks. I wish I could have turned on the television and seen my new body and mobility reflected in the media I knew and loved.
Walmart received acclaim for this ad, created in part to combat poor publicity received due to rampant news exposes of working conditions in their overseas factories. Whether this is seen by consumers or pandering depends on who is evaluating. We consistently see that price rules over all.