Chapter 3What's Wrong with General-Market and Multicultural Marketing?

On the face of it, nothing is wrong. For the next few generations—perhaps forever—people from different communities will have different cultural associations. I'm a black man from the South. My cultural milieu is different from the one Jeremy, the white, midwestern, Jewish guy writing this book with me, has. We like a lot of the same things and have largely interchangeable slang, probably because our kids are around the same age. We both experienced bigotry, albeit to a vastly different degree. But for all of these similarities, no marketer worth his or her Ad Age subscription would ever market to us the same way. Our communities are different. Our tastes are, too. Our cultural references overlap, but when it comes to foods and celebrations—some of the most intimate of our collective experiences with family and friends—we are literally worlds apart. Put simply, we share many traits and behaviors, but we come from fundamentally different places emotionally.

While advertising and marketing tries to cultivate a behavioral response—buying the product, signing up for the service, recommending to a friend, and so on—it does so through the medium of emotion. Humor, pathos, identification, envy, lust—we cycle through the full gamut of limbic responses over the course of one Super Bowl.

If advertising succeeds by eliciting emotional connection, why on earth would marketers ever want to market to Jeremy and me the ...

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