Greetings from HollyWould’ve Could’ve Should’ve  

By Jeff Valdez

love baby gap billboardI was driving down Sunset Boulevard recently and I notice a new billboard of a Baby Gap ad featuring two adorable white babies in white clothes, on a white blanket with white letters shaped like white clouds that read, “Love At First Sight.”  It was a beautiful billboard set amongst a cacophony of other messages.  However something struck me odd about this particular billboard from a marketing point of view.

I parked in front of the billboard and called a friend of mine, who is the foremost expert on data in Los Angeles.  This guy can tell you how many left-handed people blew their noses in LA in 1978.  My question however, was a much simpler one. “Dr. Bautista,” I asked, “What is the percentage of White non-Hispanic births in Los Angeles in 2012?”  He quickly answered, “17% white, 62% Latino and 21% Black and Asian.”  These numbers floored me!  83% of all babies born in Los Angeles are not white!?  Wow!  My first thought was to go short on my Coppertone stock.  Baby Gap should win an award just for being able to find two white babies in LA.  I will submit my nominations at the appropriate time.

Later in the day, I had lunch with a friend that is a marketer in the television business.  I told him about the billboard and it perplexed me how a company like Baby Gap could target an ad aimed at such a small audience of 17%.  He responded, “It must have to do with the traffic that drives down Sunset.” Could he be right?  Is it possible that maybe only white people drive down Sunset Blvd and the other 83% of Angelenos take a different route?  No wonder the traffic is so bad on the side streets.  Orrrrr, maybe my friend was wrong.  Only one way to find out.  I felt like I was about to embark on an episode of Myth Busters.

I left lunch and took side streets (ironically named La Jolla, San Vicente and Santa Monica) to get back to the Baby Gap billboard on Sunset.  I parked my car.  Pen and paper in hand, I began to put down a mark every time a car went by with someone that looked white, as opposed to not. After about 20 minutes, I counted 1000 cars and slightly over 750, were not white.  I called my friend and blurted out, “Myth Busted.”

That night at home I typed on my computer the words, “Baby Gap,” immediately a barrage of white babies popped up on the screen.  All beautiful, with their cute little clothes, and all very white.  But I mean, really white.  White, like Edgar Winters, you can see the veins under their skin, white.  But damned if I could find a cute little Latino baby anywhere.  Como es posible?  (Translated for the language impaired “How is this possible?”) Yet I can attest that I have seen many cute Latino babies in LA.  Maybe they couldn’t cast a Latino baby for a Baby Gap billboard because they don’t speak English.  Bad logic, they’re babies, they don’t speak any language.  Hmmm, maybe they rolled their R’s when they were making baby talk and that could have disqualified them.  Seems like crazy logic, but no crazier than targeting such an audience of 17% and actually expecting your business to be around in ten years.

All this in a time where Disney, in November of 2012, aired a movie called “Sofia The First.”  Sofia, was the first ever story told on Disney, where a Latina actually got to be a fairy princess.  Lo and behold, it was the highest rated cable TV show for kids 2-5 IN THE HISTORY OF CABLE TELEVISION!  Perhaps Baby Gap should take a page from Disney and start making fairy tales, not living in them.

That night as I got ready for bed, I decided I want to buy a billboard on Sunset.  Only the billboard I want to put up is one that I hope the power brokers in our community will see as they drive the strip.  This billboard will have a bunch of babies: Asian, Black, White and Latino, all in cute little clothes, with a slogan that says, “Love ALL Your Customers At First Sight.”  I will of course put this billboard on the side streets as well, just to make sure I reach the majority of Angelenos.

 

valdez_jeffJeff Valdez is a serial entrepreneur, former stand up comic and creative executive. 

He is currently the President of Max360 Entertainment, a distribution and content company. Jeff is passionate about the demographic shift that is happening in America and how to address the multitude of opportunities in this new landscape. Past endeavors include, co-founding the groundbreaking cable channel SiTV/(NuvoTV), Chairman of QuePasa.com and co-creator/show runner of the Nickelodeon hit show “The Brothers Garcia.” He was born in Pueblo, Colorado and currently resides in Beverly Hills with his wife Ana and sons Alex and Max. 

Some of Jeff’s achievements include“One of the Top 50 People Who Matter,” CNN, “The Racial Harmony Award,” Center For Ethnic Understanding, “Top 50 Minorities In Cable,” Multichannel News and was also named one of “The Top 50 Marketers in America” Advertising Age.