Works Every Time! (Target Marketing)

Black Entertainment Television (BET) refers to me as “a White blogger.” But they got my name wrong.

It goes back to this blog post from July 7, 2009, where I commented on Detroit councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who referred to the Billy Dee Williams Colt 45 malt liquor billboards, which are located in the city of Detroit, as “racist.” My argument went like this:

Well, true, this billboard only appears in the city and not the ‘burbs. How dare we be honest and admit that white people generally don’t like malt liquor and thus they are not a target market for the product. Burton snowboards and Birkenstocks are not marketed toward black folks because they are generally not buyers of those products. Why does everything always have to be drawn and analyzed along racial lines, and made into some corporate conspiracy against blacks?

This article by Eddie B. Allen, Jr., a Black writer who lives in Detroit, appears on the BET website, dated July 29, 2009. Mr. Allen quotes me as such:

“Well, true, this billboard only appears in the city and not the ‘burbs,” writes White blogger Karen de Coster. “How dare we be honest and admit that White people generally don’t like malt liquor and, thus, they are not a target market for the product.”

By the way, I did not punctuate that sentence the same way (making it a dishonest quote), nor did I capitalize “White.” However, Mr. Allen, or perhaps his editor, chose to rehash my quote, and then Mr. Allen conveniently chose to omit my subsequent comments:

Burton snowboards and Birkenstocks are not marketed toward black folks because they are generally not buyers of those products. Why does everything always have to be drawn and analyzed along racial lines, and made into some corporate conspiracy against blacks?

The essence of marketing is that somewhere there is a target market for the product that is being advertised. The market can be drawn along racial lines, income brackets, geographic areas, gender, class, religious lines, or age group. Buicks were always marketed toward older, white men—though General Motors has since tried to break down the perception that the Buick is exclusively an old geezer’s car. Buyers of Birkenstock and Teva sandals are almost always white, and the consumers of these products also tend to hold certain political views and promote predictable lifestyles. A Birkie wearer is much more likely to be spotted in Portland or Durango as opposed to inner city Detroit or the outback of Arkansas. Locally, where I live (Detroit suburbs), I glimpse billboards for pricey jewelers and fine dining on the west side, in ritzy Oakland County, and I see billboards for Hooters and domestic beer on the east side in blue-collar Macomb County.

Marketing gimmicks may not always be in good taste, or even moral, but they are created for the purpose of drawing customers to certain brands by appealing to their emotions and discrete habits. Accordingly, referring to malt liquor ads as “racist,” without justification for such a designation, is hysteric victimology.

In the case against Malt Liquor ads, who exactly is the racist? Billy Dee Williams? Or the Pabst Brewing Company? A corporation, as a whole, cannot be racist, so who in the corporation holds racist views? An executive in the marketing group? The entire Board? The CEO? The guys who devised and pitched the ad? Who? In the midst of all of these hysterical “racist” claims about malt liquor advertising, there are never any explicit, coherent arguments behind the allegations. Instead we get piffling and tempestuous declarations claiming victim status because of some big, bad, undefined enemy who is deemed “racist” via arbitrary verdict. Why doesn’t Mr. Allen, as a reporter, take the time to explore these claims deeper and bring forth some substance?

Mr. Allen then writes the following:

But critics from Missouri to Michigan find the slogan tragically ironic. Malt liquor, they argue, “works” all too well in the Black community, and has contributed to alcoholism and stagnation for years.

Malt liquor, indeed, contributes to alcoholism, just as casinos play a role in gambling habits and heroin contributes to drug addiction. I can dig up plenty of low-income, white folks who have had many Budweisers contribute to their alcoholism and stagnation as well. My neighbors serve me up a reminder almost nightly. Budweiser is, of course, marketed heavily toward the white working and middle class, as well as poor white people because they make up a large segment of the Budweiser market. Is Budweiser bigoted? Do the people of Budweiser hate blue-collar workers and the poor?

The Malt liquor market is clearly dominated by black consumers. In the illuminating online article, “A Story without Heroes: The Cautionary Tale of Malt Liquor,” the author cites numerous quotes from studies and books which reveal that black consumers make up as much as 75 percent of the malt liquor market. The author also considers targeted marketing and malt liquor and points out the brand influence imparted by advertising.

A common charge against brewers of malt liquor is that they use targeted marketing on vulnerable black audiences. In fact, all marketing is targeted. You will never see an ad for denture adhesive on MTV, and you will never see an ad for the Apple iPod on an episode of “Golden Girls.” No advertiser pays to send a message to consumers who are not likely to use their product or service.

Advertising cannot sell you something you do not want. People commonly abstain from buying malt liquor, cigarettes, tampons, and fishing line, in spite of seeing ads for these products all their lives.

Advertising does influence brand selection. Businesses advertise so that when you do go shopping, you will choose Maytag instead of Whirlpool, Kohler instead of American Standard, Birdseye instead of Green Giant, and yes, Kool instead of Newport, Colt 45 instead of Olde English.

In terms of stereotyping, blacks are often associated with watermelons, BBQ ribs, hip-hop, and yes, malt liquor. Whites are associated with country music, cheap white zinfandel, and overpriced, triple-shot “grande” lattes with non-fat, extra-hot milk and a shot of sugar-free caramel syrup, with exactly three squirts of whip cream on top. In fact, the website Stuff White People Like became immensely popular by stereotyping and lampooning people who cling to giddy fads and elitist tendencies, but only because it was originally perceived as making fun of white folks. Yet SWPL did not escape the wrath of the Racism Police. It was said ‘round the Web that by defining what one group of people like (white people), the site’s authors were thereby defining that which all non-white people (minorities) didn’t like, and therefore that was stereotyping, which was immediately equated with racism. Think you can digest that?

In this age of obscene political correctness, the use of epoch stereotypes is considered to be so evil as to be on par with a crime. But then again, thinking the wrong way can be a crime. “Hate crimes,” which are supposedly crimes of “thought,” have been validated by government decrees that punish the purported thought process behind the crime, in addition to the criminal act itself.

Frankly, the preoccupation with discrimination and the creation of victim classes escapes me. When I look at the abundance of allegations of “racism” and “discrimination,” and calls for hate crime legislation for every new victim class, I just don’t get it. I can’t make sense of the victimology ruse and the constant obsession with the notion that someone somewhere doesn’t like you because of a particular property you have that they don’t share. My gender was formerly an elevated victim class, but in this era of numerous victims dueling for the distinction of being singled out for attention, it seems women no longer get any special status. I guess I’ll have to find some other idiosyncrasy that will foist me into the casualty class.

The one mistake consistently made by the PC Language & Thought Police is in thinking that their fixation with this stuff, along with bringing constant media attention to their issues, is beneficial and “healing” for society. Instead, it just continues to fan the flames of old race wars and start new wars if the old ones don’t catch on too well.

In fact, it’s enough to make one think that it’s entirely intentional.

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