Marketing is hard. As a former marketing major, I get it. But it can be even harder when you’re out of touch, and Hyundai’s new marketing campaign to appeal to Black American’s is definitely bordering on out of touch. It’s called OKAY HYUNDAI!
Before I jump into the problem with this marketing, let me explain this phrase. In the African American community, saying “Okay!” is a term of validation, almost like someone saying “I like what you’re doing!”
Let me use an example. Say my sister and her friends are going out for a night on the town, and one of her friends puts on a new dress that she’s never seen before but she likes it. My sis will say “Okay! I see you in that dress girl!” The term “Okay!” is a validation of how good the dress looks on her.
Hyundai however doesn’t get this. In an example of how you shouldn’t try and market using a culture’s phrase and slang, Hyundai doesn’t know how to use the phrase:
OKAY Hyundai came from the art form of how the African American community acknowledges someone. This form focuses on an approach of less is more, and efficiency is supreme. Oftentimes with just one word, those on the receiving end are seen, praised, and validated. See someone with a nice outfit on? OKAY outfit! See someone driving a vehicle that elevates the entire market? OKAY Hyundai!
I can’t stress this enough: no one is saying, “OKAY, outfit.” That doesn’t make sense! That’s not how this phrase works. I do give them credit for hiring a marketing that’s led by a Black person. I’m glad she gets it.
OKAY is defined as a word that is used to express assent, agreement, or acceptance,” said Eunique Jones Gibson, CEO & Chief Creative Officer of Culture Brands. “In the African American community, placing OKAY before something is the quintessential way things worth noticing are acknowledged. Together, it’s the perfect nod to Hyundai and to our prospective buyers.
But as a Black man, I can say that the Black community doesn’t need marketing that uses our slang. For years, every company from McDonald’s to Infiniti has done this. And it’s not doing what they think it’s doing. It just further shows just how out of touch they are with the community. We don’t need slang or hip hop or “urban” ads. Just show Black people doing what everyone else does: living their life. That’s the only special marketing we need.