Being in multicultural advertising, I’m always looking for images to use in presentations and on behalf of client work. What I’ve discovered is how hard it is to find any kind of diversity in the Hispanics represented in stock imagery.
According to the Pew Research center, there are 58 million Hispanics in the United States. While the majority are of Mexican-descent, there are significant populations of Caribbean-descent as well as other Latin American countries — all with very diverse cultures and ethnicities.
What exists in stock photo houses are polarized representations of what it is to be Latino. They are either very white with blue or green eyes or very indigenous with olive skin and dark hair. What’s missing are the various combinations that come with being Latino. There is the African influence of Latinos from the Caribbean and the European influence that permeates Mexico and South America. There is also a variety of heights and body types as well as skin tones from indigenous backgrounds. Then there is also a rich mix of blended races.
According to a Pew Research Center article, “Is being Hispanic a matter of race, ethnicity or both?” Hispanics are confused about what to tick off on the Census form. The Census Bureau may evenchange the way it asks about race to collect better data on Hispanics. Being Hispanic is an ethnicity, and Hispanics’ race can be multi-racial including combinations of white, black, and indigenous. Yet given the option, 7 in 10 Hispanics choose only “Hispanics” when offered a combined ethnicity/race Census question, according to Pew.
Yahoo recently presented its second annual Diversity in Beauty Awards to acknowledge products serving diversity in the beauty industry. The winner in the “Most Inclusive Foundations” category was Fenty Beauty. The product, launched by popular music star Rhianna, offers foundation in more than 40 shades. It is wildly successful. That success would not be possible by sticking to the limited palette found in our stock photo libraries.
We are becoming a more multicultural society. Homogeny is going out the window and diversity is in. As a marketer, I’d like to see more diversity that better represents this important and varied cultural segment. Consumers connect with brands that understand them, and that includes brands that acknowledge appearances beyond the stereotypical. They want to open a magazine or turn on the TV and say, “Hey, that looks like me.”
To make better connections requires representation of the vast spectrum of what it is to be Hispanic. As the Fenty Beauty example illustrates, it can be very profitable.
Not only is the palette diverse, but it is hard to get an agreement. At McCann one of the exercises we did as part of our consumer insights was to tell the client to go through a magazine and clip 4-5 pictures of the people who --in his mind-- represented the potential customer. Then the person in charge of the planning (I don't know why we never included creatives) would do the same exercise. The differences were amazng.
I am sure that if you asked 10 people to go through the web and find 5 pictures of "Hispanic" the results would be as different. And, who knows, it might be a good exercise to do.
Thanks, Marcelo! That's a great excercise. Take care, Karla