Minorities, immigrants, and communities of color can look on with excitement to the next Vice President Kamala Harris, who collectively with President elect Joe Biden are building the pillars of democracy for something new.
Kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower,” gave mentions of her Indian heritage throughout the campaign, including a callout to her “chaachis” a Tamil word for maternal aunt, in her first speech as Biden’s running mate. Kamala’s power comes not just from her life experiences, but also from the rising tide of South Asians that represent 15% of the population in California. Her victory could usher more South Asians and African Americans into politics.
All of the women in my family–cried tears of joy when Vice President-Elect Kamala Devi Harris joyfully emerged on the presidential stage on Saturday night. The happiness was not just in celebration of Kamala’s achievement, but for the generation of women who made this moment possible. Kamala honored her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris–a South Asian immigrant who came to the USA from India in the 1960s. In her speech, Kamala mentioned the “women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all, including Black women who are often, too often, overlooked but so often they are the backbone of our democracy.”
The celebration of Kamala is the cumulation of historic efforts by women to be seen and heard. The 56-year old California senator is the first person of South Asian ancestry to be elected to the vice presidency. She represents the multiculturalism that defines America today, but is nearly absent from Washington’s power centers. Her South Asian and Black identity has allowed her to speak in personal terms during the campaign on topics such as police brutality and systemic racism.
Kamala was born in 1964 to parents active in the civil rights movement. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan and father, Donald Harris met at the University of California Berkeley during the activism infused 1960s.
Kamala’s experience as the daughter of an Indian immigrant is resonating with the fastest-growing U.S. minority population. South Asian Americans are an often-overlooked political constituency, making up less than 6% of the overall U.S. population, however, the diaspora now has earning power that is the highest of all ethnic groups, and sizable clout as consumers for living the American dream.
Although South Asians in popular culture have been stereotyped as characters such as Apu from the ‘Simpsons’ or Raj from ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ but never has anything been represented in a leadership role in the nation’s corridors of power. With this in mind, the election of Kamala has surged the enthusiasm for South Asians to get more involved in the political landscape.
The victory of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden in the presidential election is also bringing a new normal for brand marketing. A Biden-Harris administration will likely continue to put pressure on Big Tech for providing higher levels of privacy on customer information. There is also going to be intense pressure on content companies to guard against misinformation on all platforms including social.
An estimated 150 million Americans voted in the 2020 national elections. That’s about 65% of eligible voters–the highest since 1908. There’s a message in those numbers about advertising and the effectiveness of positive marketing. This level of political activity suggests the general public is more finely attuned to and aware of the marketing messages, targeting, as well as media consumption than ever before. Consumers’ identity has become paramount and closely entwined by choices each persona indicates.
As enhanced methods for audience segmentation advance, the ability to target at scale–specific to ethnicity is going to represent a shift for marketers to find platforms where such groups reside. FrontAd for example, is one such platform where brand affinity and customer loyalty with affluent South Asians will be less elusive–as educated consumers consider their consciousness in making consumption decisions.
From a policy stance, the new administration would appear to be a “return to normalcy.” The come together spirit will have more variation, but will Americans listen to appeals for national harmony? Figuring out where those two intersect will determine how advertising is created, bought, sold, planned, and placed. All parts of the advertising landscape will be called on to get the unification message, including the ethnic audience.
The Biden-Harris election is going to bring people and brands together to de-emphasize the red state/blue state divide in favor of a truly United States. Advertisers seeking to appeal to most consumers must try to market a variation on that theme. And once the pandemic ebbs–the pent-up consumer demand and sense of optimism will offer brands clear cues on how industries can rebuild brand loyalty and affiliation.