Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are Asian Americans Being Underserved By Advertisers?

My first real exposure to ethnic advertising was the old Calgon detergent commercial (Still from the commercial seen left) where a smiling All-American WASP mom is standing in the dry-cleaners/laundromat gushing to the Asian-American laundry guy behind the counter about how clean her clothes are.

When she asks him how he does it, he smiles and says with a mysterious air: "Ancient Chinese Secret!" On cue the Asian-American guy's perky, Americanized-Asian wife comes cruising out of the back waving an empty box of Calgon detergent, announcing loudly: "We need more Calgon!"

The customer gives him a look after he's totally busted and admonishes him with faux-anger: "Ancient Chinese Secret huh?"

It was so cute and endearing that the not-so-subtle stereotype of the Asian guy behind the counter came off as harmless.

These days it seems advertisers are sticking with mainstream images, performers and settings when it comes to commercials; with Asian-Americans such a large and growing part of our culturegiest in this nation, why is it we rarely see advertising targeting their culture?

According to a recent study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth Asian-American spending power in the US is expected to reach 528 billion by 2009. People of Asian descent in this nation comprise 5% of the US population and 86% speak English.

So why do media buyers approach targeted ethnic advertising with a lukewarm attitude?

According to the New American Media Website targeted ethnic advertising is more cost efficient and delivers better ROI but mainstream advertisers still tend to rely on mainstream media to deliver the message to Asian-American communities.

Just turn on your TV and surf the channels, there's no question advertisers still seem confused about how to market to Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups.

I wonder if it's fear or ignorance?

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