Race and Class in Verizon TV Ads No matter what are the patterns of the ads, the ultimate purpose of ad is attracting public attentions and selling the products. Based on different consumption groups, the ads from the same brand also need to change the advertising images, backgrounds and lines, to reach as many consumers as possible. Verizon Communication Inc is one of the most famous broadband and telecommunications company in United States. Its service range is very broad, including mobile phone, TV and Internet, and its consumption groups covers low class, middle class and upper class people.
In this paper, I will analysis the class and racial elements in Verizon 4G LTE commercial and Verizon Mobile Devices and Healthcare commercial. Applying multi-racial advertising talents and different story telling methods, Verizon stresses on the class segregation while pays less attention on racial differences. This advertising strategy helps Verizon divide its consumption groups based on their consumption abilities. It is not only one method to avoid the disadvantage of racial selling, which easily limits the consumption groups, but also direct the company to improve the services to satisfy each specific class better.
The Verizon 4G LTE commercial is also called “Bad Idea” commercial. Just as the African American guys keep saying “Whassup” in the Budweiser ad, Verizon keep showing the bold black “Bad Idea” sign after the men in the ad say some bad ideas. The background of the ad is a group of lower class men gather together and play basketball. During the break, they chat and share informations. “You guys check it out, household bleach. ” “Look Good. ” “I know, right? ” Then the “Bad Idea” comes out with a sting sound. I tell you what saves the gas money. My kids hitchhike to the school. ” “Great Call. ” Then the “Bad Idea” sign comes out again. After two more guys share their information and both have been categorized as “Bad Idea”, the fifth man comes over, says, “Surprisingly the Verizon 4G LTE is like 6 times bigger, but I am going AT&T”. Instead of showing the “Bad Idea” sign again, the voiceover tell the consumers what is the “Good Idea”, “There are good ideas and bad, with over 6 times more coverage, Verizon, is the good idea”.
This ad uses a sarcastic way to impress the people of lower class and the spectacular consumption strategy to sell the service. To sell the product to a group of people, ads always build up the environment and back ground they familiar with first. Watts defined spectacular consumption as “a process through which the relations among cultural forms, the culture industry, and the lived experiences of persons are shaped by public consumption”. The group of men in the ad have economic pressure and family burden so they come up their own ideas to save the money.
Maybe playing basketball on weekends is their only chance to get rid of work and family messes, so they exercise, brag and relax. The group of men in the ad is the epitome of the lower class men in the United States. Their income is limited so they hope for better quality services with reasonable prices. And this the reason that Verizon keeps telling the men in front of the TV that their 4G is over 6 times more coverage compared to AT&T, which means we have better quality than AT&T and fair price. People’s consumption habits can easily be effected by the surrounding people.
The same situation happens in the ad. Though most of the ideas come from those guys are bad ideas, but their friends are willing to accept it. And this is the disadvantage of speculation consumption. Unless people can make right decisions, because good ideas always spread. And this is the ultimate direction that Verizon is willing to go. If the men do not want to make bad decisions and feel brighter in their peers, choosing Verizon is always a good proof. Unlike focusing on social class characteristics mostly, this ad add one African American talent to minimize the racial segregation.
It cannot change the fact that even in this small group, it is still white man dominant, but the black talent definitely increase the group diversity and make this more likely in American society. The situation in the other commercial is the other way. This is the TV commercial expressing how Verizon contributed in the health care field. To create out the confidence and reliability of Verizon’s services, the talents who play doctors and nurses in the ad look tidy, calm and helpful.
One of the similarities among them is they all use mobile devices to check out the medical records, 3D brian scanner pictures or drug information. The patients are the other essential consumption group that Verizon wants to attract, so Verizon states that patients can measure the heart rate and the contractions and send them directly to the clinic through mobile devices, as well as helping the patients memorize their illness history. All the advantages prove the Verizon tries to “improve collaborations between care givers and patients”.
Also, instead of putting the lines into the talents’ mouth, this ad use the voiceover to tell us the benefits of the service. In this way, Verizon makes the ad more like a Public Addressing Ad instead of a commercial ad. It may makes the consumers feel that Verizon is not only one company which just care about their own profits, it also cares about the society and is willing to pay back. Compared to the former 4G ad portraying the simpleminded, funny and a little arrogant lower class men, this ads pictures doctors and nurses, middle and higher class people as warm-hearted, dedicated and smart.
They are the best group to publicize the reliability of high technology. Verizon applies the graphics and the statistics to show how professional Verizon can be in healthcare field. I think the multi-racial aspect is worth mentioning in this ad. Cortese once said in her paper that “advertising images, as cultural commodities and social constructions, are sites of struggle along racial fault lines in the United States’s cultural landscape”(Cortese, 1), and I think it is a good example of the improvement of racial problem in this country.
On the one hand, the white people in this ad is still more than the colored people. After all, the United States is still one white dominancy society, but at the same, it is also a big “Melting Pot”. So we can still find the Asian American and Latino/African American face from this ad. Moreover, because doctor and nursers are care givers, so they are in a powerful statues, while patients are considered as the care acceptors and they are in a weaker position.
In order to show the equal presentation, the ad also categorizes the Asian American as the doctor and the Latino/African American as the patient instead of ask both of them to be the patients. Different company has various adverting strategy. Luxury brands need to show their sharp fashion taste while normal brands must present their money-saving advantage. But for brands like Verizon, which provides necessary services for almost every class people, they need to use diverse selling advertisements to hit all possible consumption groups.
From the two typical Verizon ads, people can conclude that the selling strategy of Verizon is dividing consumption groups based on their social class instead of their races. It is a more realistic way to provide different costing plans to various income groups. And it can also attract all people who has this economical ability instead of blocking out of some potential consumers because racial discrimination. In this way, Verizon could possible to increase their consumer range and increase their profit.