Wednesday, June 10, 2015


This image is from an e-mail I received from Microsoft to inform me of "Updates to our terms of use and privacy statement‏." Which is welcome. Most people don't spend enough time looking over the Terms of Use and Privacy Statements of the services they use.

But it was the image that stood out for me. A mixed-race couple with their mixed-race son, being a family. To a degree, this is nothing new. It's been going on basically forever, and for about the past 50 years or so, television has given us mixed couples to varying degrees. But I've always been of the opinion that advertising, and other direct messages from business, was where it was at. When you start seeing mixed couples in advertising, then you would know that it was well on its way to no longer being an issue. Unlike television, where an advertiser can always claim a lack of creative control, an advertisement basically says: we're okay with this - and we're okay with associating our brand with this. And despite the common idea that corporations dictate people's lives to them, a company that ignores the emotions and biases of its customer base can find its fortunes changing quickly.

The first advertisement I saw with a clearly mixed couple in it was for the Washington State Lottery, not long after I moved to the Seattle area. A young White man had bought a handful of lottery tickets for his Asian girlfriend - and then proceeded to scratch off the covers over the numbers, hoping he'd purchased a winner. Since then, I've noted a slow trickle of other ads with mixed couples, maybe one or two a year.

We're still a long way from being a "color-blind" society. I'll be very impressed if we ever manage to truly get to that point. But we're making progress. One carefully crafted message at a time.

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