Staples’s 2011 ad plays to the Asian model minority type.
Verizon/Staples In Verizon’s ad for its Xperia PLAY cellphone, a white kid
The theory says that consumers are more apt to buy a
walks into store sporting a belt containing all the latest
product from someone who fits the role: “Just as consum-
gadgets. He boasts to the Asian salesman that he has every-
ers expect cosmetics to be sold by a supermodel or athletic
thing he could possibly need, but when the salesman tells
equipment by a professional athlete, in the minds of the U.S.
him about the Xperia’s capability to do everything all his
public, Asian Americans are strongly associated with
gadgets do, the kid is flummoxed (Verizon, YouTube).
technical know-how,” says researcher Jinnie Jinyoung Yoo
In a 2011 Staples ad, gadgets fly and walk into the store. The main expert in this commercial is an Asian man
of the University of Texas (Fahri). This new, positive role, while better than the standard
who appears as the words “highly trained tech experts” are
tropes, still has some Asian-Americans bristling and saying
heard. In a companion piece, one of the laptops flies into
that it depicts them as one-dimensional characters (Fahri).
the window and crashes. It’s picked up by the same Asian
The stereotypes will probably continue, given research
expert and taken to the tech support center. Again, the
that shows Asian-American consumers who accept it.
words “highly trained expert” are heard as the actor comes
A 2010 study reinforced the match-up theory when Asian-
onscreen (Staples, YouTube).
American consumers were shown ads featuring Asian
While both ads feature Asians in roles that showcase positive attributes, they also fall into the “model minority”
models and white models. Consumers responded more favorably to the ads featuring Asians selling technology
category, which creates the ideology that all Asians are
products than they did when they were sold by Caucasians.
smart, hard-working, highly successful and driven (Fahri).
The opposite held true when the product was replaced
It’s a trend that experts have seen during the last two
with something other than technology (Fahri).
decades and speaks to what they call “the match-up theory.”
Published on Jun 14, 2012