Diversity in commercials/higher education… inclusion or smart business?

To somewhat indirectly address “How have perspectives on equity, diversity, and inclusion emerged, progressed, or regressed in U.S. higher education institutions?”, I ask more general questions.

Has anyone else noticed how many companies are making noticeable efforts to include more diversity in their commercials (see my blog on 08.30.2017 for one example)? And does the term “company” or “business” coincide with “higher education?” Are universities and colleges “businesses? And do they follow money making policies in similar ways? Just some food for thought.

To relate back to companies and commercials, having more inclusion is great, especially in a time when people and children “learn” so much from watching TV. What we perceive as normal today relates a lot, in my opinion, not only to what we experience at home, in school (K-12 and higher education), etc but also what we see and hear on the TV and radio. I don’t have to know someone of a specific minority group to be exposed (at least minimally/indirectly) to them anymore. And exposure, I believe, helps with the issues of acceptance and tolerance.

As another example of a company demonstrating more diversity and inclusion in their ads, Marriot put out this ad recently and states “Being human is so much more than simply going about our day; it is about serving others and treating them with kindness. At Marriott, we live by the golden rule and treat our guests the way we want to be treated with respect, care and compassion. Four of our brands are coming together to share what makes the golden rule so important to us and why treating guests with respect has always been our guiding principle” (taken from YouTube description under this video).

While I am really happy to see companies like Marriot and institutions of higher education (either in mission statements or even in the commercials colleges and universities play during sport commercial breaks) embrace diversity more now than even a few years ago, I have to ask whether this is a solely altruistic trend or is money the major player? In other words, is it peoples’ open-mindness or greed or both that drives greater inclusion within mass media commercials, within colleges/universities?

We live in a world where money talks – if people want diversity, give them diversity. A lot of companies are realizing that they can broaden their client-base (or become more appealing for students with various backgrounds) by being more inclusive (though they must weigh the risks of losing clients/students as well who are anti-anything diverse). And, it works – I remember the companies that show diversity and inclusion over ones that don’t (but that could just be that I try to be tuned-in to diversity topics in general). Personally, and I welcome everyone’s opinions, I believe it may be a little bit of both. In my opinion, it would be naïve to say that companies/colleges/universities are incorporating inclusion and diversity more than they used to for solely good-hearted reasons because we live in a world where money is important. Businesses (which I believe include many institutions of higher education) need to make money, so they “sell” themselves in the way they think (based on who knows how many polls, surveys etc) will make them the most. That all being said, however, it’s okay if a major player in the increase in diversity is money-related. Because that means that more people are accepting and tolerant. So, I see it is a win (or at least a movement in the right direction).

One Reply to “Diversity in commercials/higher education… inclusion or smart business?”

  1. I hadn’t thought about this yet. But I think universities and colleges can be considered businesses to some extent, in that they make money when more people want to attend these places and therefore it would benefit them to reach out to a broader audience. So, I think money definitely plays a role in advertisement and motivations behind them, but this still indicates that whoever is behind the advertisement at least desires to reach out to diverse populations. And that’s a start. I was just in Atlanta this summer and went to the Coca Cola museum and their newest advertisement is:


    (not sure if this will work on the comment or not). I was really happy and surprised when I saw this advertisement. I think it’s extremely well-done and makes an attempt to address diversity. It’s simple, but effective.

    Thanks for posting!

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