AD Blog 4: Racism and Ageism Biases in the Industry

An AdAge article written by I-Hsien Sherwood talks about how an agency called Oberland is developing a campaign focusing on how both racism and ageism is a prevalent issue within businesses across the world (Article link). Racism is not just limited to the extremes we often see in the media, it can also mean having a mindset of associating certain behaviors or characteristics with different demographics and expecting them to act that way. Typically caucasians are the dominant group portrayed in various types of media. However when it comes to someone of a different race, like an African American, they are expected to act as their stereotype or they are not necessarily the main character. This is also a part of the chain reaction to how racism is perceived in the media. If one outlet shows a certain group as such, then others will think the it is ‘okay’ and follow suit.

The article mentions how ageism is also a big issue. Most people think there is no harm with showing an older man on television not being able to use a computer and having a young teenager help him how to use it. You also see the those LifeAlert commercials of the older adults falling on the floor and unable to reach a phone to call help. Although these advertisements can be relatable, society now connects older people to being incompetent on not being able to use a computer or that they are unable to take care of themselves without LifeAlert without the risk of falling.

A part of the reason behind why the media represents these kinds of groups is because many people want to watch a show or an advertisement that does not require much thinking. People would rather watch something that is relatively relatable. For example, watching a television show that goes against stereotypes can make people confused or even cause some uproar that the media is forming some sort of agenda. Since these stereotypes are already embedded in people’s minds, it is easier to just go with the idea than it is to go against it.

Oberland Agency’s logo

Oberland Agency’s logo

Oberland Agency’s approach with getting these industries to fight off these stereotypes against racism and ageism was well executed. It draws attention that this is a problem that not very many people easily recognize. Sometimes people do these actions unknowingly. However, Oberland wants these videos to allow people to self-reflect about these issues and how they can make a change.

Oberland Agency’s “Nothing Changes If We Don’t” video on Ageism