More People to Love
Let me introduce myself. My name is David Minsub Choe (Minsub pronounced Min as in mint and Sub is pronounced like a Portland hipster saying the ‘zup’ part of “wazzup.” Choe is pronounced like the last syllable in Nacho) and I am Grady Britton’s creative intern for the summer. My tasks as an intern include gulping down mugs full of “terminator” coffee (heard it’s great for the heart and soul), brainstorming quirky promotion names, petting the office dog and writing about beers and wines (based on my knowledge of alcoholic beverages as a 21-year-old).
I like to introduce myself as being 100% Korean and 100% American. I say this because I am ethnically Korean while being born in this country grants me citizenship. During my spare time, I enjoy baking extravagant confections, loading my soccer dad van with friends to go hiking, teaching dance fitness to college students and having deep Oprah talks with my friends.
I am fortunate to receive the opportunity to learn and to contribute at Grady Britton through the internship program, Emerging Leaders Internships (ELI). ELI’s mission is to match underrepresented college students with internships with some of Portland’s most reputable companies. A.K.A bringing more representation to Portland’s leadership. Lately the concept of diversity and inclusivity has been getting a lot of attention due to the political and social issues arising in this world.
Diversity is one of those words that either makes people clap or tense up. But, honestly, no need to get nervous because it’s just an opportunity to learn. In the professional world, diversity comes in many (interesting) forms from having informational brochures with stock photos with the search results of “happy diverse people,” to employing a wide spectrum of people. Diversity can be an act of sincerity or simply a promotional stunt. Diversity is/should be an authentic and natural aspect of our daily lives to make sure everyone is included and represented.
With that being said, why is diversity significant and why should we care? I personally believe it is because America is changing. We are a beautiful country that is assembled with vibrant cultures and people that come from all over the globe. Different locations, stories, foods, beliefs, you name it. Since we are immersed in a country with a vast array of people, we need to surround ourselves with people that don’t look like us. Having peers that look differently can also bring growth to the table. Although the country started off with immigrants solely from England, within the 241 years following people from all over the world have made the U.S. their home. In fact, according to Census data, by the year 2020 minorities will be the majority of this country. We’re changing America.
As an advertising agency with creatives making ads constantly, why does diversity matter? Does it mean creating an ad with a Chinese boy eating his Cheerios with his chopsticks because we want Chinese people to love Cheerios too? No. But unfortunately that’s what the media has been doing. Stereotyping.
Instead of generalizing people and their experiences, there is a need to share genuine human stories. Advertisers helps sell products but, ultimately, we are the storytellers. As storytellers, we want to connect with our audience and to do that we need to know who that is. If our audience comes from various perspectives, we need to mirror that. If we want to speak to a broader market we need to accommodate by having people not just from various races but, also from a variety of different religions, sexual orientations, genders, disabilities and so on to be able to tell these stories.
After seeing these effects, companies such as General Mills have requested having 50% women and 20% people of color on a team to produce their ads. The industry is starting to evolve the way they are communicating with their audience by having different people tell these stories. Advertiser’s need to develop and alter storytelling because ads have significant powers to bringing untold stories to light and bringing change.
Nike India’s Da Da Ring, showcased strong women in sports in a country where gender inequality is evident. The vibrant video is a celebration of women in sports showcasing a different side of the story.
Another example is P&G’s “The talk” spot for their “My Black is beautiful” campaign. It’s bold. It brings to light the racial bias that black people in America face everyday. This disrupting ad was only made possible because the agency made the initiative to challenge the reality of black Americans today. The ad doesn’t simply touch the surface rather the well represented team really digs deep. This spot definitely leaves a statement. Out of the ordinary and provocative ads break the current and develop the way people think and process.
But, let’s talk about me now (Whoa). Growing up, I could never relate to the heroes that flashed on screen. Superman, Joey Tribbiani, Troy Bolton, Buzz Lightyear (?), James Bond. They were all white. I couldn’t relate to their stories. As a young child, I wanted to be validated and see someone who resembled me and my life. I’ll admit, I still search for the stories that I can relate to because finding stories in the media that resemble mine are slim. Where are the characters who have immigrant parents and are bilingual?
It’s the small things that matter and sync people to the story. Even though ads aren’t movies they do tell stories and they impact our everyday lives by distinguishing culture and the norm. In order to sell a product or gain respect for a brand, I strongly believe you need to connect to it. Although I lack experience, I think being a 21-year-old second generation Korean American in the advertising industry gives me a unique role. I believe it is my responsibility to share stories based on my experiences. I need to represent and create the stories that aren’t being heard quite yet.
Advertising agencies are at the forefront of change in culture, and culture drives people. “Diversity,” may seem like a trend but it’s not. Because it is here to stay. No need to think of diversity and inclusion as a big obstacle to tackle. Rather it’s a supplement to the preexisting structure. Making big strides may be difficult, though stepping away from what’s known and comfortable is a humbling experience. Advertising agencies should represent people, all sort of people to the best of their abilities. We are the future of America and a beautiful blessing to this country.