Blogging here at Sb has many advantages, one of which is a free subscription to Seed. I received the latest four issues the other day and have been reading them with great interest. It’s a very pretty mag with great content.
One detail surprises me.
Almost all of the models in the ads are black. I have an inkling what this may mean: let me explain.
- Most of Seed’s readers are in the US.
- In the US, black people are on average less well-educated and affluent than white people.
- Therefore, marketing a US pop-sci mag primarily to black people would be a bad idea.
- The ads are instead in all likelihood aimed at white academics.
- Seed has an explicit liberal bent.
- By advertising in Seed, companies aim at getting name recognition and positive connotations for their products among liberal white academics.
- Seed’s advertisers choose black models because they believe that this will give the magazine’s liberal white academic readers a warm fuzzy feeling. They hope to associate their products in the readers’ minds with civil rights, Democrat-party liberalism, “We Shall Overcome” and “let’s win the next election”.
This is fine by me. But I think it’s kind of obvious and more than a bit silly. I mean, come on: the percentage of Seed’s readers who are black must be way below the percentage of the United States’ citizens who are black. And if we look at the magazine’s writers, well — the percentage approaches zip.
OK everybody, tell me: am I reading this correctly?
Update same day: Derek wisely suggested that I offer some data. Here’s a run-down of all ads with photographs of people in the two most recent issues of Seed, nos 9 and 10. I have classified the models as either black, white or Asian and added available information on who they are and what they are presented as doing in the pictures.
|#9 p 0-1||Intel||Black dancer: anon|
|#9 p 9||Honeywell||Four people (2 white, 1 black, 1
Asian) in white coats: anon
|#9 p 11||Maxell||?|
|#9 p 47||Schering-Plough||White PhD: Tom Koestler|
|#9 p 95||SLOOH||Black swimmer: anon|
|#9 p 97||RosettaStone||White farm boy: anon|
|#9 p 98||Tanqueray||Black drinker: Tony Sinclair|
|#10 p 0-1||Intel||Black dancer: anon|
|#10 p 9||Maxell||?|
|#10 p 20||SLOOH||Black swimmer: anon|
|#10 p 29||Honeywell||Asian in white coat: anon|
|#10 p 31||Tanqueray||Black drinker:
|#10 p 38-39||Dow Chemical||Black nude labourer/eye candy: anon|
|#10 p 51||Schering-Plough||White PhD: Tom Koestler|
|#10 p 59||RosettaStone||White farm boy: anon|
|#10 p 79||W.W. Norton||White Nobel laureate: Eric R. Kandel|
A few observations.
- Out of 14 ads with classifiable people shown, eight show blacks, six whites and two Asians.
- All people on ad spreads are handsome anonymous black men.
- 50% of ads with whites identify them by name and academic honorific.
25%of ads with blacks identify them by name, none by honorific. No ad identifies an Asian.
- People of all races sometimes wear white coats. Apart from that, blacks dance, swim, drink gin and labour in the nude. Meanwhile, whites receive the Nobel prize and are farm boys.