Last Tuesday, Cheerios posted a new commercial to their Youtube page featuring an interracial couple and their daughter. To many, the ad was cute and heart-warming. I mean, who would have a problem with an adorable little girl showing her love for her family by giving her father Cheerios to help him be “Heart Healthy”?
Well even in the year 2013, there are still people who have a problem with seeing interracial couples in advertisements. Showing a black man with a white woman caused such uproar in the ads Youtube comments that Cheerios had to shut down the comments altogether due to their racially charged nature. The negative comments included references to Nazis, troglodytes and racial genocide. The debate over the commercial continued on Reddit and within the comments of articles covering the ad.
Camille Gibson, Cheerios Vice President of Marketing, made no apologies, stating that, “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families, and we celebrate them all.” Gibson is absolutely right. According to the 2010 US Census, 1 in 10 (5.4 million) couples in are interracial. This is a 28% jump since 2000.
Despite the large amount of angry and negative comments regarding this commercial, many people have stepped up to defend the ad. Since the commercial aired, the Cheerios Facebook page has been receiving hundreds of comments from consumers applauding them for taking the risk to show an interracial family.
In March 2012, Advertising Age published an article written by David Morse about interracial marriages and advertising. The article talked about how interracial marriages are constantly increasing in the US, however, the advertising industry is slow to adopt this into
their advertisements. For some reason, advertisers who aim to connect with consumers on an emotional level are hesitant to do this by using race. Morse explains this perfectly, “When you’ve been in the minority (whether gay, in a mixed-race relationship, with disabilities, of color) and you see yourself in a commercial, it means something. That’s the wink. It’s a ‘My God, they get me.’”
This commercial seems to be the tipping point for racial diversity in advertisements. We’ve seen it in TV Shows such as “Parenthood,” that features a relationship between a white man and a black woman, as well as “Modern Family” and “Glee” that take it to the next level with gay parents. We can only hope that more companies follow in Cheerios footsteps to portray all types of American families.