In May 2013, a Cheerios commercial sparked controversy for including an interracial couple and their daughter. The commercial features a young girl who is concerned about her father’s heart health and pours the cereal on his chest while he is napping. The commercial ends with a yellow screen displaying the word “love” in bold, black letters.
According to an article in “The Huffington Post,” the comments section on the video had to be disabled the day after the video was uploaded to Youtube because many viewers left racist comments. Those who liked the commercial, however, commented on the Cheerios Facebook page expressing their appreciation.
The racial backlash received from audience members has caused some to question the efficacy of executing commercials that feature bi-racial couples.
“To see color is so 1970s,” conflict mediation teacher Lisa Deeter said. “The bigger question should be: why would it be an issue?”
An Old Navy commercial in 2008 titled “Pattern Play” spurred some debate for featuring an interracial couple. The commercial presents clips of a white male and black female living together outlining their daily life. The short video captures the couple hugging and kissing as the plot of a forgetful, loving girlfriend unfolds.
“I don’t see a problem with bi-racial couples in advertising,” senior Nikohlas Higgins said. “My family is mixed—I’ve been around bi-racial couples all of my life.”
In August 2013, a Samsung commercial featured a family who just received a new SmartTV. In it, an Asian woman stands next to her white husband and their mixed-race daughter sits on the sofa.
“Advertising should be like real life,” Higgins said.
Other food-related commercials have displayed interracial couples. A McDonald’s “Still In Awe” Angus commercial, first aired in April 2102, includes a bi-racial couple enjoying hamburgers in the background. Last aired in November 2012, a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial features a black-white couple enjoying Philadelphia cream cheese on bagels and strawberries.
“It’s [interracial ads] normal to me,” junior Elijah Henson said. “No one should be given a hard time if they are dating the opposite race.”
According to a Pew Research Study, about one in 12 marriages in the U.S. are interracial. In the 2010 Census, nine million people stated that they are more than one race and 19 million people identified as being “some other race.” In fact, about 8.4 percent of all new marriages in 2010 were between spouses of different ethnicities.
In April 2012, a Dodge commercial elicited positive responses by portraying interracial dating in mainstream media. In it, a young white male flirts with a black female in the back seat of his new Dodge. Furthermore, clothing ads including those from Banana Republic and Macy’s have increasingly begun to feature more interracial couples—predominantly black-white couples.
To many viewers’ surprise, Cheerios decided to air another interracial commercial during the 2014 Superbowl. The same family from the original commercial is featured, but the plot entails the daughter Gracie wanting a new puppy after learning that she will soon be having a baby brother. The commercial ends with the same yellow background with the word “love” in the center.
“As far as advertisements like that, you see them everyday in the streets,” campus supervisor Don Tirapelli said. “Basically, the whole U.S. is a melting pot and that’s what makes our nation great.”