Target marketing or racism?

Published On:
Friday, October 2, 2009
Printer-friendly version

Marketing is the most important component of a business.

It is the method of communication between the customer and the company — it projects the concept of the corporation itself.

This tool of persuasion is designed to creatively spark desires. It gives words to images and power to words. Marketing is commercial seduction, but also the stringent line that divides reality in two: good and bad, beautiful and ugly, new and old, etc.

As enchanting as it might seem, when marketing is used to draw physical divisions among different races, it becomes no more than profitable racism.

During a time in which businesses are subject to effectively fighting “competition,” the fact that marketing is becoming more and more illustrative should not be really surprising.

People understand that establishing visual differences between a PC and a Mac, for example, are imperative strategies to take into account.

Nonetheless, if you see a “white PSP” avatar/model violently holding the mouth of a purposely inferior looking “black PSP” avatar/model, as Sony did to commemorate the launch of the ceramic white PSP, then you can clearly realize marketing can be used as a double-edged sword.

Moreover, there are other companies, such as Abercrombie and Fitch, that suggest “some races produce more sells than others.” Some even support such ideals by holding racist hiring practices, according to

“The company recruits and hires white college students for its sales positions, but tends to reject minorities or hire them only for jobs behind the scenes, such as overnight shifts and stockroom work,” according to, a Web site dedicated to the discrimination lawsuit concerning Abercrombie and Fitch hiring practices. Abercrombie and Fitch has recently been charged with racial discrimination, and it has been required to pay more than $50 million.

What did this company say in its defense, according to “It is just target marketing.” Target marketing is a business term meaning the market segment to which a particular good or service is marketed — lately, it’s also the excuse some companies have used to cover racism. There is no problem with hiring attractive men and women to attract clients, mostly, if we talk about fashion.

That is not illegal. But, discriminating on the basis of age, sex or ethnicity is. That is where things can get confusing and eventually begin to cause conflicts.

As the essayist Albert Memmi said, “There is a strange kind of tragic enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racists; still racism persists, real and tenacious.”

Many think that after the Civil War and after the 14th Amendment, racism is no more than pure exaggeration or simply human sensibility. But just imagine, what could be next?

The most negative part about target marketing is that it creates stereotypes. It associates characteristics, such as smart, pretty or ugly with black, white, Asian, Latino, etc. Ultimately, those erroneous associations become, for instance, an ad that claims “African Americans are more athletic than other races, that is why they wear…”

Without a doubt, consciousness about this apparently indirect racism- related matter must be achieved. If not, many will continue suffering the exclusion of discrimination.