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Black women hired as spokespersons for two major advertising campaigns
Olympian Gabby Douglas, astronaut Mae Jemison signed

(April 23, 2013) The advertising industry is often criticized for excluding black women in the creation of messaging for clients, but perhaps two new major campaigns may be evidence that the tide is turning.

McDonald's announced that it has hired Gabby Douglas, the 17-year-old Olympic gold medal gymnast, to help promote its newest menu addition -- the egg-white breakfast sandwich. Douglas won't be featured in ads, but rather will be used to hype the new breakfast item at the restaurant chain's events.

McDonald's, a popular target for critics of fast food and the targeting of kids, hope Douglas will assist in its on-going effort to clean up its image by offering healthier menu options.

Though McDonald's hasn't announced an African-American targeted ad campaign involving Douglas or ad agency Burrell, spending by black consumers may change the chain's plans. According to the latest edition of The Buying Power of Black America, of the $22.4 billion all black households spent eating out in 2011, more than 11% ($2.6 billion) was spent on breakfast meals. And that number is trending upward. It increased by 9% between 2010 and 2011.

In the home furnishings business, Simmons Bedding Company announced that it has hired Dr. Mae Jemison (pictured), the first African-American female astronaut and an accomplished physician, to be part of a major forth coming ad campaign.

The campaign will mark the first national television advertising endeavor for Comforpedic line from Beautyrest. Expected to deliver nearly 700 million impressions alone, the spots aim to position Comforpedic "The Better Memory Foam" as the "expert brand" for those "in the know."

This campaign will mark the first national television advertising endeavor for Comforpedic from Beautyrest. Expected to deliver nearly 700 million impressions alone, the spots aim to position Comforpedic "The Better Memory Foam" as the "expert brand" for those "in the know." In addition to Dr. Jemison, the campaign will feature leading experts in a variety of fields, including Animal Planet correspondent and grandson of Jacques Cousteau and Maria Chudnovsky, renowned graph theorist and mathematician.

"Though the original Beautyrest spots tested well comparatively within the bedding industry, we knew we could go bigger -- better. We're competing for our audience's attention against all advertisers, not just our industry," says Jeff Willard, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Simmons.

In addition to network television, the ads will run on a broad spectrum of cable networks, including Lifetime, HGTV, Bravo, TLC, Food Network, Travel Channel, A&E, ESPN, History Channel, TBS, TNT, USA, CNN, MSN NBC, FoxNews, among others.

Black consumers seem especially well disposed to respond to the mattress makers messages. Of the $4.6 billion that black households spent on furniture in 2011, $846 million went to mattresses and box springs, according to the latest Buying Power of Black America report based on government reported data. That represented a 48% increase from 2010.

Furniture and furnishings expenditures by black consumers overall reached $15.2 billion, with furniture sales increasing 19% in 2011.


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