Luxury Brand Advertising Often Absent in Black Media

Experts say black buying power often overlooked

Indeed, resources abound about the spending habits of blacks. They range from annual statistics from Target Market News to experts such as Leonard E. Burnett Jr., publisher of Vibe Magazine and former founder of Vanguard Media, which published Honey, Heart & Soul and Savoy magazines. His new book, Black Is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans, (Palgrave Macmillan; $35)  explores the viability of the black dollar and why the African American consumer should not be ignored.

Diversity Dilemma at Ad Agencies

The lack of diversity at most general market ad agencies likely leads to a lack of ad placement with black publications, says Sandra Sims-Williams, senior vice president of diversity & inclusion at VivaKi, the digital marketing arm and media communication of Publicis Group SA.

“[Agencies] have a definition of who African Americans are based on an old assumption,” says Sims-Williams, who founded the Roundtable of Advertising Diversity Executives to increase diversity in the field. “They are not enlightened by the buying power of African Americans. They don’t know how key the segment is to our economy.”

To change the practice where black Americans spend money but black media doesn’t receive any ad revenue in return, Smikle, Graves, Sims-Williams, and Pedraza all say that black consumers need to start asking more questions. First, they need to ask retailers why they don’t see their ads in black publications, on black radio, and black television.  Sims-Williams adds that luxury clients have to pressure the ad agencies to spend more with black publications, she says.

And if conditions don’t change, then consumers should leverage their buying power accordingly and consider spend their money elsewhere, Smikle says.

Additional reporting by Wesley Miller


The African American/Black Market Profile

The NAACP Madison Avenue Project

The Multicultural Economy 2009

Kiss My Black Ads

The Marcus Graham Project

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  • BE is always on point with their features.

    Couldn’t agree more. Though I think that luxury brands who don’t use black models probably won’t advertise in black magazines.

    Ajuma Nasanyana was a model for Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith, both British luxury labels though. Interestly Giorgio Armani, Versace and Prada are all Italian luxury provided who don’t use black models.

    I think that’s a really interesting sign.

    Personally, while I like certain luxury brands, I can only really support the ones that use black models in their advertising so this will include Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Louis Vuittion (Naomi Campbell spread) etc.

  • Joy

    This article really hits home for me. I love luxury items, but due to many unknown factors, I can’t seem to locate m/any black designers which leads to my search for non-black designers to purchase products. At one point, as a teenager, I REFUSED to buy products from luxury designers who never feature black models. But, these days, this same logic will leave me naked, since it seems that none of the designers feature black models. It is frustrating. I’m at the point whereas I am looking for a seamstress to make my clothes. That way I can keep the black dollars in the black community without empowering non-black designers who ignore us.

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