Marcel Salas

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York U.

Grant number

Gr. 9624

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Salas, Marcel A., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Total Market American: Race, Digital Space & the Advertising of Consumer Citzenship,' supervised by Dr. Arlene Davila

Preliminary abstract: For nearly half a century, the American advertising industry has used the term ‘general market’ to refer to the U.S. national population. However, underlying this race-neutral concept has been a longstanding practice of coding whiteness as representative of the ‘average American’ (Morrison 1992; Igo 2008;Burton 2009). Black, Latino, and Asian consumers, collectively referred to as ‘multicultural markets,’ have been segregated from the general market construct (Dávila 2001; Chambers 2008; Shankar 2015). Yet, with the 2010 U.S. Census projecting the rise of the first-ever ‘majority-minority’ population by 2044, and the surge of individually-targeted digital advertising, marketers are being called to reckon with — and possibly transform — how they envision American identity. This paradigm shift has led to the emergence of a highly contested marketing category known as ‘total market,’ which aims to imagine a more racially inclusive vision of American consumer society in advertising. For the advertising planners at agencies, who are responsible for collecting and synthesizing consumer data, technological and racial demographic shifts present significant transformations in not only how, but also who, has the epistemological authority to define the ‘total market’ American. Through ethnographic research with ‘general market’ and ‘multicultural market’ ad planners in New York, this research examines timely transformations in the production of racial knowledge, and its impact on the cultural construction of American identity.