Cadbury has been called out on what some are calling a “diversity flub,” for its new multi-flavor “Unity” chocolate bar aimed at celebrating ethnic diversity for trivializing racism. The new limited-edition bar sold in India features four different flavors of chocolate blended to represent a range of skin colors – white was not one of them. Cadbury said, “This Independence Day (August 15), let’s celebrate a country that stands united in its diversity.”
Getting involved in diversity issues is always a dubious exercise, unless its part of your purview of business. Selling chocolate bars isn’t one of them. Diversity marketing blunders seem to come out regularly – here are just a few. But it is a two-sided sword. On the one hand, it can cause customers to dislike and not buy your product. About 61% of Americans find diversity in advertising important. In fact, 38% of consumers said they are more likely to trust brands that show more diversity in their advertising. Another 34% of respondents said they’d boycotted a brand, at least temporarily. On the other hand, it does get you visibility – which sometimes can be good.
Opinions vary on what works and what does not when including diversity as the subject in advertising. A recent example of Gillette and Nike advertising campaigns had two different outcomes. Current thinking said that the Gillette ad was perceived to speak condescendingly of one group’s opinion over the other – regardless of your diversity views. The Nike ad merely promoted diversity. The point here is that understanding the dynamics of diversity opinions can be critical to a companies bottom line.
Another question one can ask is, does diversity training efforts help or hurt diversity? Opinions vary, and data is hard to come by. A Harvard Business Review study seems to suggest that the more you force people into diversity thinking, the more people resist. It tends to hurt the very people one intends to help (see inset chart).
It seems in today’s divisive politics, Identity politics rules – regardless of your position on the issue. News Forecasters asks the same question on Identity politics results as we did with diversity training efforts results – does it help diversity? If the Harvard Business Review study is any guide the answer is no, because diversity is being forced it won’t be accepted as currently defined.
In 2013 Oprah Winfrey said, “older people, who were born, and bred, and marinated in racism have to die, before racism can be solved.” The implications are that old ideas can die off, as new generations don’t hold and forget the old ideas. At first, Oprah’s comments seem to make some sense. But this is not what is happening, rather Identity politics. Perhaps a better method is required. What this means is, racism in America will get worse, not better.
A video presentation of this subject: