15 Aug 2008


The word ‘urban’ is often used as ad industry shorthand for black/latino people, as noted by our friend Amanda. Even though we are in the business of communications, few folks speak simply about race. This can make for very circular conversations about casting and locations, some funny, some SMH.



  1. 18 Aug 2008 Seany Beagle
  2. 18 Aug 2008 nerditry

    People don’t want to talk about race because there are always loopholes in one’s argument easily picked apart. When it comes to business, people want to talk even less about “it” and talk around it with words like urban or street.

    And, since every marketing decision is made on a macro and micro level, the breadth of a person’s feelings on race can be displayed pretty quickly. That in mind, it’s never a good thing to find out in a meeting amongst other marketeers that your ass is in fact racist.

  3. 22 Aug 2008 jojo

    Isn’t the point to push the envelope? Maybe the question is, “who is urban?” which elicits a more temporal and spatial answer.

  4. 22 Aug 2008 raafi

    I do think there’s a certain class of consumers who are hip-hop savvy (without necessarily being black, white, latino, or asian) that have pushed the growth of sectors like streetwear and mobile phones. Unfortunately, these are also the people we see breakdancing in Visa commercials. The ad world seems both aware and utterly incapable of properly crafting messages that resonate with this group. As mhb points out the word “urban”, though most suited for describing these people, is most often used as code for black/latino, which adds to the dissonance regarding communicating to this diverse group with shared tastes.

    The urban/streetwear scene, however, is just as vibrant in Canada. When will they ever learn? This isht is global.

  5. 24 Aug 2008 MHB

    thanks for commenting all, the topic calls for a more detailed post and discussion. i’m jotting thoughts on bar napkins…soon come.

  6. […] avoids engaging the nuances of race, religion and ethnicity, instead opting for code works like ‘urban’ or window dressing for the idea of diversity. Seeing as this industry moves billions of dollars, […]