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Social Justice Warriors Have Become a Trendy Demographic for Advertisers

RYAN MCBRIDE,DON EMMERT,KENA BETANCUR,ROBYN BECK,ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

Advertisers have begun appealing to the social justice wing of liberalism in an attempt to increase sales, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian reports that advertisers are using social justice related advertising campaigns to appeal to liberals across America. One ad celebrating “eco-warriors” comes from a very unusual source, the car company Kia. In the ad, actress Melissa McCarthy is driving in a Kia car when she gets a call to “save the whales,”

In an ad for the home rental app Airbnb, a message flashes across the screen reading, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” The video was shared across social media with the caption, “acceptance starts with all of us.”

These ads are examples of a growing trend within advertising which seeks to appeal to liberal demographics. The Guardian spoke to urbanist Richard L Florida who thinks that the ads are representative of a divided country with advertisers catering to voting groups often based on location alone. As richer people became more liberal, advertisers began attempting to appeal to those with the largest wallets. “Advertisers used to wonder how a spot would play in Peoria,” says Florida. “Now they wonder how it would play in Brooklyn.”

Rob Baiocco, a creative executive at BAM Connection who has produced ads for major brands such as Pringles and Starburst, believes that many of these ads are “highly suspect” in their aims, often pretending to care about social issues to appeal to liberal millennials without really bothering to research the issue whatsoever. “Companies are avidly and aggressively trying to get involved in a socially responsible space, and they are doing it horribly – they are grabbing at straws. They are entering a complex conversation they have no right to be in, yet they are forcing their way in,” Baiocco said. “These creatives are trying to make their toilet paper save the world.”

“Sometimes a Pringle is just a Pringle.” stated Baiocco.

Sarah Banet-Weiser, an advertising expert at the University of Southern California, took issue with the faux compassion that many of these ads show. “Empowering girls becomes a product unto itself. That’s commodity activism: there’s no real connection to structural change,” said Banet-Weiser.