LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's a white world.
At least that's the conclusion one reaches after viewing the newest round of TV commercials and print ads unveiled at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association National RV Trade Show here Nov. 30.
There are four TV commercials and five print pages, scheduled for rotation in mainstream media next year. White actors portray every character. There are no faces of color to be seen.
An oversight? Not at all.
Gary LaBella, the RVIA's vice president of public relations, said an editorial board chose to include only white faces because white people are the ones who buy motor homes.
It was, LaBella said, the 'safe route.'
This seems wrong on a couple of levels.
Consciously excluding people of color in the advertising reveals shortsightedness regarding the potential audience for the ads.
Running on all the major network stations, as well as cable channels, the TV spots undoubtedly will be seen by millions of people of color. For them, a window to the RV world populated solely by whites will only reinforce stereotypes.
Which raises a second point: Why would any advertiser consciously limit the number of people to whom its message might appeal? Blacks and Latinos have money; the stock market has touched all aspects of society. Wealth is influencing purchases everywhere. And it seems that a black person who had never considered a motor home will be unlikely to consider one after seeing the ads.
Each ad in the Go RVing campaign features a toll-free number interested people can call to get a video that more fully illustrates the RV lifestyle.
In that video, a family of four African-Americans was hired to show off the industry in a more diverse light, LaBella said.
That's fine. But before anyone sees that tape, there is still a hurdle to overcome: the all-white promotional campaign. The ads tout things like the pleasure of a campfire, or a spontaneous dip in a pond. They say 'Go RVing' - if you're white.
Michael Woodyard welcomes comments. E-mail him at [email protected] or call him at (313) 446-0373.