Some advertisers are happy to reflect societal norms, while others aim to push established expectations. In Canada, commercials depicting multiracial customers air regularly.
But things are a little different in the U.S. For example, when this Cheerios commercial ran in May 2013, there was an immediate backlash.
Social media exploded over the fact that a multiracial family was shown. Hateful, racist comments were posted by the thousands.
When positive comments eventually outweighed negative, Cheerios was emboldened to feature the same family in a 2014 Super Bowl ad. That ad earned a similarly mixed response.
Sensing an opportunity to make an impression, Swiffer ran an ad that pushed things a bit further, this time featuring a multiracial family with an amputee father figure who does the housework.
Then Honey Maid piled on with an ad that showed all manner of families — including multiracial and same-sex — and had the nerve to claim such families are wholesome.
This time when the hateful comments poured in, Honey Maid was ready … almost as if it had been expecting them.
In this follow-up commercial, it commissioned two artists to print out all the vicious rants and turn them into a 3D sculpture that spelled "love."
The response to racial diversity in advertising also depends on how it’s portrayed. If race is used as a way to reflect a company’s customers back to themselves, most viewers react positively. But if racial diversity is presented as a novelty in order to get attention, many viewers will object.