Proposal Title

Si(gh)tation: Targeting Race in Advertisements after the George Floyd Protests

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

Although corporations intend for the material impact of their commercials to be a purchase of material, the matter of advertisements matters. This presentation argues that we must explore the material that advertisements leave out, obscure, or overlook in their attempt to link the value of purchases to the value of lives. Specifically, this presentation uses critical feminist geography to re-place the people who are left unrepresented in “diverse” advertisements and public relations messages targeting a liberal, middle-class, white demographic. As such, this presentation explores the physical landscape, which is to say the site, of the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in May of 2020 and the “geography” of the ensuing advertisements released by the Target Corporation, whose local store was looted and destroyed in the uprisings.

Target has worked to combat its association with this situated racial inequity by setting its sights on better public relations through “visibility.” Although Target’s messaging provides a new vision for the company’s racial relations, it cites middle-class whiteness as a referent. By re-placing the missing local residents in Target’s sights, this presentation explores how the corporation scales a national message of local matters to gentrify its target demographic’s notions of representation, value, and justice.

Bio

Kai Prins is a Ph.D. student studying rhetoric at the intersections of gender, bodies, and performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kai’s research focuses on depictions of and resistance to normativity and neoliberalism on the drag stage, in social media, and in advertisements. In their spare time, Kai is an award-winning drag king known as Will X. Uly.

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Jun 24th, 3:00 PM Jun 24th, 4:30 PM

Si(gh)tation: Targeting Race in Advertisements after the George Floyd Protests

Although corporations intend for the material impact of their commercials to be a purchase of material, the matter of advertisements matters. This presentation argues that we must explore the material that advertisements leave out, obscure, or overlook in their attempt to link the value of purchases to the value of lives. Specifically, this presentation uses critical feminist geography to re-place the people who are left unrepresented in “diverse” advertisements and public relations messages targeting a liberal, middle-class, white demographic. As such, this presentation explores the physical landscape, which is to say the site, of the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in May of 2020 and the “geography” of the ensuing advertisements released by the Target Corporation, whose local store was looted and destroyed in the uprisings.

Target has worked to combat its association with this situated racial inequity by setting its sights on better public relations through “visibility.” Although Target’s messaging provides a new vision for the company’s racial relations, it cites middle-class whiteness as a referent. By re-placing the missing local residents in Target’s sights, this presentation explores how the corporation scales a national message of local matters to gentrify its target demographic’s notions of representation, value, and justice.