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  • Writer's pictureAriana Bhargava

Inclusive Thanksgiving Marketing

History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time we often associate with fall, family, and food like turkey and gravy. The origins of the holiday date back to the 1600s and when a feast was shared by the Plymouth colonists and the Indigenous Wapanoag people in Massachusetts during autumn. However, “the story of Thanksgiving” often misconstrues the history of European colonists and Indigenous people, erasing the years of genocide and brutality towards Indigenous people. Additionally, recounts of the history of the holiday often portray the European colonists as the generous, more intellectual group of people, offering a sign of peace to their inferior neighbors. However, this narrative is entirely false and incredibly harmful to the Indigenous community. It’s important to approach conversations and historical recounts with care and context.

Thanksgiving Branding for BIPOC audiences:

Thanksgiving is a versatile and community-oriented holiday, perfect for implementing seasonal branding. Thanksgiving ads often include food, family or friends, and fall imagery. So how might those visuals change when marketing to a BIPOC audience?

Here’s some details to pay attention to:

Casting: When trying to portray a family or group of a certain culture, make sure the actors cast are all actually part of that culture, as it will allow for viewers to feel more represented.

Food: When portraying Thanksgiving, try and include different kinds of foods that may not be seen as “traditional Thanksgiving food.” Food is absolutely critical to not only Thanksgiving, but most families and cultures. Thanksgiving dinner looks different to every family and might be something worth researching and spending time on.

Language: Highlighting other languages is another tool to create a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of what Thanksgiving is like for some POC.

Family dynamics and traditions: Though no family has the same dynamic, regardless of cultural background, the way Thanksgiving is often portrayed —fancy china, wine, quiet conversation, saying grace, etc.— may not be the same for everyone. Highlighting aspects specific to a culture or spending time on details can really make a difference to viewers such as families who don’t drink alcohol or families who pray at the table differently. Being meticulous allows for further representation and more authentic branding.

Ways to see what people are eating

It’s difficult to find out what dishes are important to whom on a holiday like Thanksgiving. But a great resource is this article from National Public Radio that highlights a ton of different cultural meals that are special to people during the holiday. This article from Delish also offers many insights into multicultural Thanksgiving celebrations.

Turning to Tiktok can also provide insight. Creator Cas Jerome highlights the meals from Thanksgiving in her Indian family, while this creator does the same for her Filipino family, and Fresh Out the Bluff shows a spread from a Friendsgiving of people with different backgrounds. A simple “poc Thanksgiving” search can garner a ton of results and glimpse of what’s at the table around the world.

Campaign example

Not to toot our own horn, but this campaign Aam worked on with The Cumin Club celebrates the classical Thanksgiving traditions and foods with a South Asian twist. Here’s how:

  • An effort is made to highlight the many different foods and celebrations of Thanksgiving from immigrant communities as well Indigenous perspectives.

  • This post features a South Asian Thanksgiving menu starring well-loved traditional dishes as well as food inspired by both South Asian and classic Thanksgiving flavors such as the Gajar Halwa Cheesecake.

  • The Cumin Club also collaborated with two South Asian influencers to endorse their meal kits while showcasing a delicious dish and dessert that’s meant to be shared and perfect for the holiday.

There are almost no larger media examples of diverse Thanksgiving advertisements, but marketing to a BIPOC audience for this holiday is hugely beneficial as it garners a much more meaningful connection with the target audience, and ultimately brings in a new wave of consumers.

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