Black History Month – Positive Advertising and Marketing Campaigns

2016 is the 40th year of Black History Month, which was thought up by PH.D. recipient Carter G. Woodson in 1926. While black history should be celebrated and embraced every month, the observance of Black History Month has served as a way to encourage an open dialogue of African American achievements in a European-history-centered United States. 

Image from Allstate's announcement of their new campaign

From Allstate’s new campaign announcement.

African Americans have grown more influential throughout time. According to a report from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, black buying power is projected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. That’s a 275-percent growth since 1990, when black buying power was $320 billion.

According to Nielsen, 62 percent of African Americans believe that embracing their culture is important. Any company or organization that tries to build a connection with or serve African Americans should embrace that as well.

Here are some recent positive campaigns that have engaged and spotlighted the African American community:

Allstate Insurance: Allstate introduced its national digital, social media and radio campaign, “Worth Telling,” in honor of Black History Month. The campaign, which kicked off on February 1, 2016, is highlighting and spotlighting the accomplishments of ten African Americans who are working to pave the way for others in the fields of art, education, health, agriculture, science, music and entrepreneurship. “This campaign celebrates the important contributions of African-Americans across a broad spectrum of disciplines who are making a positive impact on society and inspiring others,” said Georgina Flores, Vice President of Marketing for Allstate.

Empire: In 2015 when Empire aired, Fox decided to make marketing and advertising funding efforts for the show a priority, which paid off immensely. According to Adweek, African Americans make up 61 percent of the show’s audience. The team decided that this “hip-hop soap opera” was best marketed to diverse audiences in very different ways. Understanding their audiences and the qualities the show had to offer, Fox played up the family drama and music aspects to target the African-American and LGBT communities, along with the fashion world. It was a layered campaign that included print, radio, online, cable, broadcast, and partners like Fox Sports and FX.

Dove: Dove launched its body-positive “Love Your Curls” campaign in early 2015 The ad opens with a statistic that states: “Only 4 out of 10 curly haired girls think their hair is beautiful.” Although the ad targeted girls and women of various races, the ad contributes to the conversation about natural hair vs. relaxed hair in the black community. The ad has received negative feedback that Dove is a beauty company that prioritizes sales, but the presence of the normalization and embracing of the beauty of curly hair on television is a welcome change.

Marketing to and communicating with diverse communities is important to ensure every group is included and their values are celebrated. Kudos to these campaigns and the many others that do just that!