What role does advertising play in history?
Those who only see what’s on the surface will say it is all about boosting sales. People who tend to dig deeper will argue that the role of ads is to direct spending from one brand to another. Only those who are able to see the bigger picture will explain that the role of advertising is complex, and one of the many things it does is shape our values and beliefs.
What we see changes who we are. Given the amount of marketing we consume daily, it’s no wonder ads hold so much power over what we consider normal.
Decades ago, people would laugh at the idea of male cosmetics. Now, after a few successful advertising campaigns from Nivea and friends—voila—we seriously believe that men need a moisturiser to keep their skin soft. Before diamond company De Beers launched its campaign to popularize diamond engagement rings, people would call you insane for spending 2 months salary on a piece of jewelry just to ask your girlfriend to marry you. Today most of us do not question the logic of such an investment.
To provoke a strong emotional response, marketers rely on value-based advertising. They tell stories instead of directly asking the audience to buy what they sell. When these stories follow us for a long enough time, we soak in the values they promote without even knowing it.
In nearly all cases, the value that ads promote is consumerism. Sometimes, however, advertisements become the agents of positive social change.
In celebration of Black History Month, we are pleased to publish our company’s pick of ads that have served as a catalyst for increased cultural equality and acceptance.
Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements and contributions made by African Americans. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” which was created by historian Carter G. Woodson back in 1926. These days, a number of countries including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK devote a few weeks each year to focus on the important role African people played in the history of their homelands. Also known as Black Achievement Month, it is celebrated every year either in February (the US and Canada) or October (the UK and the Netherlands).
The Top 5 Commercials Advancing Cultural Acceptance and Black History
Nike Speaking Up for Equality
The idea of sports breaking boundaries between people of different cultures, races, and political views is anything but new. Even still, we could not help but include this Nike commercial on the list. Touching and inspiring, modern but timeless, this one is a telling example of how brands can promote the right values and ideas. See for yourself:
Adidas Showing the Power of Diversity
There must be something sportswear brands understand that most others do not. Otherwise, how would you explain the increasing number of social ads coming from their part. Nike might be the leader, but Adidas seems to keep up. Last year’s commercial “Calling the Creators” is a great example of promoting diversity in a gentle yet obvious way. Seeing is believing, so make sure to take a look:
Esperanza Immigrant Rights Standing for Equality
The next one is a brilliant example of social ad. Created as per request of the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, it is showcasing a diverse group of kids who were given a LEGO-like version of Trump’s wall and asked to play with it. What happens next might serve as a good lesson for the adults. After a few seconds of examination, kids say the toy is not fun at all. “You can’t do anything with it,” kids say and choose to break the wall and use its blocks to build something useful. Watch the ad and make sure to listen carefully to what the kids say.
MBK Alliance Making a Call For Equal Opportunities
If you ever wondered what former presidents do after they leave the Oval Office, then you absolutely need to see this ad. Created for the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (the initiative established by Barack Obama in 2014), this short commercial is inspiring and uplifting. The key message it spreads is that everyone, regardless of circumstances, should have equal opportunity to achieve success. It’s a nice example of what a for-good commercial should look like:
Pedigree Reminding That Boundaries Are in Our Heads
When it comes to advertising, finding the balance of for-profit and for-good is tricky but still doable. Pedigree’s commercial is living proof it is possible. Short and simple, the ad features two dog owners of different age, race, and social status bumping into each other on the street. What happens next will make your heart melt. However, watching this ad made me wonder about why they decided on black and white. Should I stop reading between the lines?
Fictional stories showed in ads may have very real consequences. Each message an ad sends, every idea it spreads, has an effect on our values. We might not even notice how advertising is shaping our beliefs, gradually changing what we consider normal.
That is why it is crucial for marketers and brands to remember the social responsibility that is laying on their shoulders. If our goal is peace and prosperity, advertising based on values that should dominate the industry today.
There are many amazing ads that promote cultural awareness and Black History. Share your favorites in the comments.
If you loved the ads listed here, take a look at StopAd’s pick of the best advertisements of 2017.