Over a past weekend, a friend of mine in the hospitality industry was in San Francisco for the annual U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow (known as “the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of Visit USA travel”). After helping him set up his booth, we walked around the show floor to see what other tourist destinations were promoting and came across the Sonoma County tourism booth. We were pleasantly shocked to see various posters front and center in their booth featuring an Asian male with a white woman walking in wine country – and on the side, having a romantic moment with some wine.
We both had never seen anything like this before (and my friend has grown up in the family hospitality business). I’ve mostly gone to technology related trade shows so rarely if ever see couples being featured in any trade show booth material or setups. My friend and I were perhaps over analyzing why Sonoma County might be featuring this couple and we thought, “You know, if we had seen the same images of a white man with an Asian woman, we wouldn’t even be thinking twice about this.”
My friend thought that perhaps with the increased number of tourists from China and Asia visiting the United States, this marketing tactic was one way to appeal to them. However, after getting home and taking a look at the Sonoma County visitors web site, I saw that Sonoma’s latest free visitors guide has the couple on the front page. You can take a look for yourself in the online version.
My friend had commented afterwards noticing recently (maybe from my posting on my Facebook wall) Ally’s most recent television commercial featuring Randall Park and thinking that maybe Madison Avenue has become more open minded about featuring Asian American men for broader roles in advertising. I think it’s fantastic that Sonoma County, for whatever reason, does highlight Asian Americans and features an interracial couple to reach out to all tourists. What do you think?