Representation is king: the very existence of advertising and marketing is predicated on this simple, yet seemingly evasive idea. Yet while the US Census declares that nearly 44 million people and counting are Black in the United States, it’s a bit strange that there’s such a large disparity in the amount of varied representation in voice and on-screen talent featured from Black communities.
Advertising has the power to hand the proverbial microphone to anyone at any moment by presenting their reality in front of the world. Seeing ourselves and what we could be, ceilings we could shatter, or barriers we could break begins with what we create and how we depict the world to be — all through representation and storytelling in media.
This first commercial handed me that mic through its depiction of Black women as familial, informed and heard by those in closest proximity. At 36 weeks of pregnancy, I had to find the courage to tell my ob-gyn that I needed to be admitted for induction based on symptoms I was experiencing. It was scary. It felt unreal. It was uncommon, yet arguably life saving for me and my seven-pound baby that was four weeks early and healthy.
Not only was this commercial dope, but Lexus was able to capture increased traction on multiple channels across varying audiences, citing this spot as “our most engaged with commercial before the release of Black Panther.” Rest in power Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda, forever.
We certainly can’t celebrate representation in advertising without highlighting a work of art that literally encouraged people to be part of the vision of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This commercial was fun yet focused on inviting everyone in to leave the earth a little better than we found it.
In honor of Black History Month, we pay homage to award-winning advertisements that showcase Black talent boldly and unapologetically. The advertising industry is the perfect stage for a vast array of opportunity to elevate everything — in every shape, size and shade. Let’s continue to relish in the times the advertising industry chose to acknowledge when it could have ignored, elevate when it could have suppressed and led when it was easier to follow.