Of Race and Marketing

10 years ago

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a few of the financial highlights from the BlogHer conference. Nothing to write home about, but just some things that I picked up on during a few of the conversations and sessions I had attended. What I love about the BlogHer conference – and I’d say this anywhere, not just in this space – is the way it fosters a discussion and then individual bloggers expound upon this conversation as they process the happenings of the previous days. Therefore the dialogue continues after the conference and in various communities, with the hope of gaining better understanding or teaching others or inflicting change.

What I failed to mention in my previous post was more of what occurred during the State of the Momosphere session. I had alluded to the discussion of advertising but a few other bloggers – mothers – took this into the oft choppy waters of race and advertising and why PR professionals fail to recognize mothers of color for one reason or another. Bringing up advertising and why some mom’s get one thing and others don’t is already a little dicey, but bring race into any conversation and one ends up skating on some paper thin ice.

Thankfully what has occurred in the weeks since BlogHer has been a relatively peaceful meeting of the virtual minds on the topic of race and marketing. And why, no, I don’t mind if I just insert myself into this here conversation.

I’ve said repeatedly that I – and most single women – don’t get the hordes of marketers coming after us because despite our disposable income we don’t have little people to force New Balance sneakers or Gerber foods onto. But try being a single, black female (Seriously, so much fun that I can hardly contain myself) and NO ONE will want you. And for the most part I could care less and I wouldn’t think it purposeful, but there’s just this trend that was brought up by two excellent (and far more eloquent) women – Stefania Pomponi Butler and Kelly Wickham – that just piqued my interest after I picked my jaw off of the floor.

A few excerpts from their phenomenal and thoughtful writing over the past few weeks; from Stefania:

To his credit one of the PR dudes came up to me after the session and asked "How should we pitch to mommy bloggers?"

And I said, "Tell me you looked up my stats on Alexa. Tell me you picked me because you *think* I may be influential. Tell me that you know mombloggers get pitched to all the time but that you'd *pretty please* like me to listen to you. Just don't bullshit me by telling me 'you read my blog.' I know you don't."

Then he admitted, "You're right. We don't pitch to bloggers of color." And here's the money quote: "We just don't know what to do with them."

From Kelly:

My question, then, was directed at those two marketing professionals and I asked when they would tap into the mothers of color and bring us into the fold because they are leaving us out of the loop. When will the diversity come into play?

And the question? With The Hand? It died a sad death right there. We got back to the monetization of blogs and I got a little excited when Stefania chimed in that diversity does indeed need to include moms of color because she has concerns about Asians being marginalized as well.

Every time I read each of these posts, which only began to fuel this discussion – with no plans of dying down anytime soon, Thank God – I think OH MY LORD. Seriously? Seriously. And I wish I had something a little more effective to say than some spiteful retort of “If you don’t know what to do with us bloggers of color then I don’t know what to do with people of complete ignorance. Asshat.” See? Mature, no? I’m just finding the whole thing baffling, not because I’ve been living in some land of Oz where everyone gets treated the same and fairly but because the reasoning behind the lack of reaching out to mothers of color seems so very Birmingham circa 1965 not the Blogosphere in 2007.

I’m annoyed and angry. While I really don’t mind not being marketed to, etc. because I don’t have children even though I also do laundry and use Swiffers, I’m just beyond baffled and somewhat hurt that it’s not just a mom vs. non-moms thing, but it’s a racial thing. Because apparently women with a little more pigment to their skin don’t do the same things that everyone else does. I can now only mange to successfully do what I always do when I drop myself into a conversation: I say “Hmm, that’s some crappy, crapness right there” and then stand around awkwardly thinking that everyone else involved is so much more intelligent. And then when asked for my opinion in the matter, I can only offer the really revolutionary thought that that it doesn't seem like a good marketing strategy to ignore an entire demographic of women based on skin color, especially this day in age. Not to mention for Public Relations professionals, way, to relate to the public, by saying that you "don't know what to do" with women of color. Welcome to 2007!

Anyway, the good thing about this is that I KNOW that everyone else involved are considerably more intelligent (Did I mention the eloquence yet? And articulate, too) (I couldn’t help myself with that one). I also know that Kelly and Stefania have both started this very necessary discussion has gotten people thinking and reacting in a good way. So now that I’ve added my worthwhile opinion, I’m going back to twiddling my thumbs and maybe jumping in when with an emphatic “YEAH!” when necessary.

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