Editorial Color television

A new Goldfard study, commissioned in part by the Canadian Advertising Foundation through its Race Relations Advisory Council on Advertising, indicates Canadian CEOs are seriously out of step with consumers on the issue of the portrayal of visible minorities in advertising.According...

A new Goldfard study, commissioned in part by the Canadian Advertising Foundation through its Race Relations Advisory Council on Advertising, indicates Canadian CEOs are seriously out of step with consumers on the issue of the portrayal of visible minorities in advertising.

According to the survey, CEOs estimate that ‘about 21% of the Canadian population is negative toward or sensitive to the use of visible minorities in advertising.’

Yet only four per cent of Canadian consumers interviewed say they respond unfavorably to the use of visible minorities in ads.

The finding show where advertisers serious about addressing the valid concerns of visible minorities need to do some work – at the top.

Until the ultimate decision makers take it upon themselves to learn more about the issue, visible minorities will likely continue to be under represented.

The Goldfarb study, presented to advertisers at an industry seminar March 30 in Toronto, should be required reading for anyone working in advertising in Canada today.

Commissioned by CAF in conjunction with Southam Newspaper Group and TorStar, and made possible by grant money from Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, it is a ground-breaking investigation into the attitudes of CEO, minority groups and Canadians at large towards the portrayal of visible minorities in advertising.

Overwhelmingly, the study indicates all Canadians – not just visible minorities themselves – believe the advertising industry should increase the number of ads featuring visible minorities.

Suzanne Keeler, CAF’s vice-president of public and business affairs, says that while it has long been suspected the public perceives the ad industry as unfair in its portrayal of visible minorities, the issue had not been examined in any depth.

‘The attitudes of Canadian were never identified before in such specific terms and with such specific regard to advertising,’ notes Keeler, adding the study suggests excuses such as ‘the talent pool is too small’ or ‘It won’t fly in Moose Jaw’ could end up costing advertisers dearly.

The Goldfarb study represents phase two of a three-phase effort by CAF to promote the responsible portrayal of visible minorities.

Last year, CAF together with Southam and TorStar commissioned a related study by Dr. John Samuel, an adjunct research professor of demography at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Samuel’s study predicts, among other things, that visible minorities will control at least a fifth of the GDP by 2001.

In phase three, which is yet to get under way, CAF hopes to research the purchase patterns of various visible minority groups and make the data available to advertisers.

CAF feels the more advertisers know about visible minorities, the more they will be inclined to treat them with the respect they deserve.