Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers
Shalini Shankar is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley, also published by Duke University Press.
This chapter explores linkages between processes of categorizing and counting individuals through the U.S. Census and other means, changes in advertising, and shifting meanings of race. Based in theoretical concepts of “biopolitics,” neoliberal ideologies of “postrace,” and “cultural circuits of capital,” it offers brief migration histories of six major Asian American ethnic groups—Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, and Vietnamese, and identifies their current areas of concentration in the United States. The chapter traces shifts evident in media representations beginning in the late nineteenth century through the present. Post-1965 Asian immigration and the model minority stereotype are discussed in relation to advertising. The latter portion of the chapter traces the growth of the Asian American advertising and its place in “multicultural” advertising alongside Latino and African American advertising. It also documents how Asian American agencies have weathered the 2008 financial crisis and shifts that have occurred since.