Only White People Buy Stuff — Multiculturalism and Audience Profiling

Sunny Lee was a character on Neighbours. She was the first Asian to appear as a regular character on the show. She was an exchange student from Korea despite her Australian accent.

Farouk was Darryl Kerrigan’s friendly neighbour in The Castle. He was a Lebanese immigrant, always carried cash and threatened to blow someone’s car “to the fucking sky”

The Habibs are an Australian-Lebanese family in Here Come The Habibs. They’ve moved to Sydney’s affluent Vancluse from Bankstown. They eat falafels, wear Adidas trackies, discuss dodgy compensation claims and are under suspicion from their neighbours of harbouring bombs in their garage.

Neville Bell is mates with Crocodile Dundee, in Crocodile Dundee. He is an Aboriginal that is seen in traditional clothing, going walkabout on his way to a corroboree. Dundee makes sure to state that Aboriginals “don’t own the land” and compares the ownership argument to “arguing over rocks”.

These are just a few of the times that Australian media has represented non-white, non-Anglo Australians as ‘the other’ with hidden agendas to be skeptical of.

These diverse characters have their personalities and traditions scrutinized against what it is to be ‘Australian’ and, more often than not, are only accepted by the Anglo community when they show mateship (which is developed through assimilation). The ANZAC spirit lives on.

Although from the US, Master of None has fought back at the lack of authentic and diverse ethnic representation on our screens.

Written by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, the latest season features only one white recurring character (Dev’s friend Arnold) and, when surrounded by Dev (Tamil Muslim), Denise (African-American/Queer), Brian (Chinese-American) and Francesca (Italian), Arnold becomes ‘the other’. Arnold is the token white guy.

We see these characters challenge prejudice and discrimination, and we follow them as they struggle to hold onto their cultural identities whilst trying to fit into a society that cares little for it. Master of None gives a voice to ethnic groups living in modern societies that, although obviously exist, are rarely accounted for.

Now, let me show you this

This is the Helix Persona segmentation. Roy Morgan combines stuff like purchasing behaviour, location, demos, media consumption patterns, job titles etc. to create profiles that are used to better understand customers and how ads can reach and preach to them.

But why are there only white people in these categories? Do only white people buy stuff in Australia? G’day 2017.

I work in performance marketing and I’ve never had to segment to an audience profile that represents ‘us’. I’ve optimised bids on ‘Julie’ -

  • DINK
  • affluent
  • high credit card user
  • willing to buy a more expensive cleaning product if the environmental messaging on it doesn’t make her think too much about carbon emissions

I’ve segmented the shit out of ‘The Family Woman’ -

  • married with kids
  • combined income of over $250K
  • latest iPhone but late tech adopter
  • shops at organic grocery chains only

It ain’t all white though — I was once sent a deck with an image of an Asian father and son on it. It’s about time (hand raising emoji).

Inside the deck was basically this — we want to target entrepreneurial graduates that have financial support from their parents post-university. Oh, they are also tech savvy and what do you know about running ads on WeChat? This is a segment that Roy Morgan calls “Successful Immigrants”, not “Successful Australians”.

These audience profiles fail to understand that people from different cultural backgrounds are still Australian. We don’t need our own categories; we all live in the same streets, we all eat at the same places, we all shop at the same Coles, we all drink at the same bars.

Audience strategies seem Anglo af. But then I think about the people working on these strats, they’re also Anglo af.

PwC’s 2016 Annual Entertainment & Media Outlook showed that our industry is 82.7% English monolingual with 37% living in Newtown and Paddington, followed by Richmond and St Kilda. Visit this site and see what ethnicities live in these areas.

We can’t have diversity in audience and content strategy when the industry does not reflect the Australia that is actually out there.

The latest census showed that 26.8% of our population was born overseas. By 2050 demographers predict that migrants will increase Australia’s population to 38 million and that they will be middle-class, mid-30s and from China and India with no history of Australian content conditioning.

In a nutshell, they will give no fucks about Summer Bay and Rhonda’s racial subordination of Ketuk will not resonate.

So where do we go from here?

  1. We confront unconscious bias (Oi, it’s actually a thing) in recruitment and promotion and diversify our teams
  2. We start looking at quotas as tools to understand the workplace instead of just a tick in a box
  3. We provide opportunities for talent to work abroad
  4. We aim to work with platforms that provide voices to all ethnicities (see ya Fairfax)
  5. We burn everything down and re-build with intersectionality at the center of it all :)

Until next week, let’s hear some choice words from Dave Chappelle as Rick James — “Unityyyyy!”