It seems that every new day brings with it another egregious self-inflicted crisis caused by racially and gender-insensitive marketers.
The most recent examples are the truly horrific gaffes committed by Adidas and Gucci, respectively;
While the in-house marketing team and agency partners are unquestionably at fault for their lack of social awareness, I think the real genesis of these blunders lies with the designers and engineers.
These are the uber cool and uber insulated types who are constantly trying to come up with the hippest, sleekest and most cutting-edge sneakers, sweaters and widgets.
Having worked with designers and engineers alike, I know they live within their own ivory towers. They obsess over trends, technology and ease-of-use, but are oblivious to the larger societal issues rocking our world. As a result, a Gucci designer will create a way cool addition to an existing sweater without realizing that, when the add-on is added-on, it looks like someone in blackface.
And who else but an Adidas designer would come up with an all-white sneaker to celebrate Black History Month? (Note: I’ve alerted Adidas that they’ve just won the coveted Repman Award for the most tone-deaf brand in the world).
So here’s my solution to the problem: immediate diversity & inclusiveness training for product designers and engineers.
It seems to me that, if the designers and engineers are given the proper training, there will be far fewer opportunities for their marketing brethren to create a totally unnecessary cause celebre.
That said, stay tuned for next week’s self-inflicted brand misstep. 😎