Saturday Night Live’s last episode featured this parody ad for the Starbucks Verismo:
What caught everyone’s interest were the voices of the machines, which do sound as if they were performed by a African-American actors. Ad Age has an article on the broader debate.
You can save the “is it racism or not” arguments for that article. Here’s my question to ad pros: Have you ever been in a situation where you were working on a broadcast campaign or photos for a print ad where the casting seemed too stereotypical? Did you speak up about it?
I suspect the parody spot above would have been just as amusing if the baristas sounded like disaffected hipsters without ethnic tones in their voices. But SNL didn’t go that way, and deliberately so, it would seem, These are the types of decisions we make in this business every day. Our clients have to sign off on them too. Who’s responsible for pointing out the ethnic sensitivities we need to keep in mind these days?