It's a Mass Market No More

The new ethnic consumer is forcing U.S. companies to change the ways they sell their wares

Spicy Mexican foods normally stimulate the taste buds, seldom controversy. But a television advertisement for Taco Bell's saucy new Wild Burrito caused more excitement in the African-American community than the company intended. The spot featured dark-skinned island "natives" with painted faces, dancing in loincloths, flames belching from their mouths. African Americans immediately attacked Taco Bell's attempt at multicultural advertising. Oakland city council official Fred Ferguson described it as "plain and simple racist." The ad was withdrawn.

That kind of faux pas was unacknowledged in the days of Ozzie and Harriet and flesh-colored Band-Aids, when one advertising message fit all customers. But...

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