When Dr. Ines Poza, founder of market research firm Poza Consulting Services based in Santa Monica, began tracking minority representation in Super Bowl ads twenty years ago, she found something disturbing. “Celebrities aside, only white men, white women and animals were protagonists, with Blacks or Asians filling in about 10% of background characters.” But what about Latinos?
Work testing ad concepts for the Total Market and Latino audiences piqued her interest in studying Super Bowl ads. “I could see the population landscape changing and wondered if this would be reflected in the ultimate ad showcase – the Super Bowl. Back then, not so much.”
Poza reports an encouraging shift. “Most ads this year featured a minority as protagonist, had minorities featured as secondary characters, with the majority of ads with celebrities featuring at least one who is also a minority.”
While this is positive, Poza notes there is still something troubling. “Almost no one in the ads looks like the nearly 52 million Latinos living in the U.S.” explaining, “Aside from two Weather Tech and an Anheuser Busch ad, no one who can readily be identified as Latino was included. Blacks, mixed-race individuals and Asians were featured throughout, which is great, but not Latinos.”
The U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center report Latinos comprise about 18% of the U.S. population with Blacks representing 13%, Asians 6% and non-Hispanic Whites about 60%. As the fastest growing minority, Latinos are projected to represent nearly 30% of the U.S. by 2050.
As to why, despite these figures, Latinos were almost completely absent from ads this year, Poza offers, “Advertisers are still trying to figure out how to reach U.S. Latino consumers, thinking multi-racial individuals featured are reasonable proxies. But there’s no substitute for meaningful representation.”
She adds, “This was a missed opportunity to connect with the fastest growing consumer segment. Advertisers can and should do better given the ad buy and potential market share the Super Bowl represents.”
As for continuing to monitor Super Bowl ads, Poza says, “I’m looking forward to next year!”