Media Messages Matter
Many people say, "It's just a commercial," but the truth is that we watch a lot of commercials. We watch a lot of television and movies. We listen to a lot of songs. We see a lot of magazine ads. The fact of the matter is that media matters. Our brains take in information from these messages, and that information impacts the way that we view the world around us. When we see messages that demean and stereotype, they impact our culture in very real ways.
Mel the MilkBite
Kraft's campaign for Mel the MilkBite is unacceptable. In this campaign, Kraft has created a human-like version of their new product, the MilkBite that is part granola, part milk. In a series of commercials, Kraft compares these two parts of Mel to races.
In the commercial "Parents," Mel confronts his parents (a bowl of granola and a glass of milk) and accuses them of not thinking when they decided to give birth to him. This commercial suggests that parents of multiracial children are irresponsible and do not have their children's well being in mind. This is a cruel accusation that is often used as an argument against interracial relationships. It is insulting to parents of multiracial children who, of course, love their children and want for them to grow up with healthy senses of identity.
In the commercial "Blind Date," Mel goes on a date with a white woman. She asks him why he looks like granola when his profile said he was milk. By showing Mel as activey hiding his granola background (the brown part of his heritage), the commercial sends the message that the white part of his heritage (milk) is superior. This perpetuates myths that people of mixed racial heritage need to "choose a side" and are unable to embrace multiple parts of their cultural identities. Finally, the white woman who is on the date with Mel calls out "I'm kind of into it" as he walks away, which feeds into a long history of exoticising people of color in ways that do not appreciate them as full individuals but instead reduces them to their difference.
A series of other commercials, including one where Mel rants about how unnecessary a Spork is because there's no need to mix two perfectly good things and one where Mel says that blonde is better than all other hair colors, all send the message that having a mixed racial background is a flaw. This campaign is socially irresponsible and insulting.
We Live in an Increasingly Diverse Society
This message is unacceptable. We live in a country with a rapidly growing group of multiracial people and interracial couples. The 2010 Census showed a 28% jump in interracial marriages among opposite-sex couples, with one in 10 couples now identifying this way. In addition, 21% of same-sex couples are interracial (1).
The number of people who identify as multiracial is also growing rapidly. 4.2 million Americans identify this way, a 50% increase since 2000. Of this group, the number of people who identify as both black and white has jumped 134 percent since 2000, now numbering 1.8 million (2).
In addition, the person in office in the highest position in America, the President of the United States, is of multiracial heritage.
As our country becomes increasingly diverse, we cannot afford to continue sending forth these damaging and insensitive messages about race and identity.
It's Our Responsibility to Hold Companies Accountable
Please, tell Kraft to stop this campaign and consider the impact of their messages more carefully for any future advertising.
It is our responsibility to hold companies accountable for the messages they send, and this message is a damaging one.
1- Jayson, Sharon. "Households With Partners of a Different Race." USA Today. .
2- Saulny, Susan. "Census Data Presents Rise in Multiracial Populations of Youth." New York Times. .
Your MilkBites commercials featuring Mel are unacceptable. These commercials perpetuate stereotypes that multiracial people are flawed, cannot form their own identities, and will never fit in. In addition, your commercials suggest that parents of multiracial children are irresponsible and are not concerned with their children's well being.
These commercials are damaging and send the message to the culture as a whole that it's okay to treat people of multiracial backgrounds differently because of their flaws. We live in an increasingly diverse society, and these messages have an impact on a larger and larger segment of the population. As of the 2010 Census, 4.2 million Americans identified as multiracial. When you send messages like this one, you alienate that segment of your audience as well as create a cultural norm that harms them on a broader scale.
Please, stop this campaign immediately and carefully consider the impact that your advertising will have in the future.