Advertisers need to work harder to talk to ethnic audience

Advertisers are failing to connect with ethnic audiences because they are stereotyped in commercials, according to research published this week.

While diversity in TV advertising has increased, with 13 per cent of actors being of a non-white origin, the portrayal of black and ethnic groups tends not to take into account the diversity of ethnic minority groups and too often shows black or Asian characters in non-dominant roles alongside white characters.

The research, from Media-edge:cia, also highlighted that some groups, especially Asians, take a more upfront approach to advertising and want a clear idea what product an ad is trying to sell and what its benefits are. The agency studied attitudes among 200 people from ethnic minorities.

It also found that advertisers need to be more sensitive to the cultural and moral attitudes of each ethnic community, especially when ads are viewed in a family context.

David Fletcher, the head of research at Mediaedge:cia, said: "Ethnic marketing can be a double-edged sword. Advertisers that use ethnic minority actors or settings draw the attention of this audience, but they tend to polarise the community between those who see the representations as positive and those that see it as tokenistic or stereotypical."