Universal slammed for making different ‘Straight Outta Compton’ trailers on Facebook

Universal Pictures is being accused of “whitewashing” its “Straight Outta Compton” trailers it showed on Facebook.

To promote the theatrical release of the movie, Universal served a targeted trailer to “non-black and non-Hispanic” users that almost completely removed mention of N.W.A, the rap group the entire movie revolves around. Rather, that demographic’s trailer focused just on Ice Cube and Dr. Dre because the studio believed they were more familiar with them.

The revelation came during a South by Southwest panel featuring Universal’s evp of digital marketing Doug Neil, who revealed how the company marketed the movie using Facebook’s analytics tools. While the social network doesn’t directly allow brands to direct ads based on race, it can target certain demographics based on habits, likes and what they’re interested in seeing.

“They connected to Ice Cube as an actor and Dr. Dre as the face of Beats,” Neil said, calling the film a “breakout hit” for earning $160 million at the box office (and, notably, being mostly snubbed at this year’s Oscars, which triggered the #OscarsSoWhite campaign).

Universal’s “multicultural team,” Neil said, cut an entirely different trailer for balck users on Facebook that prominently featured N.W.A. and its Compton roots. In another trailer for Hispanic audiences, it featured flashing quotes written in Spanish. (He told to Digiday that the trailer for African Americans was a “slight adaptation.”)

Neil’s candid revelation sparked blowback.

Vulture dismissed Neil’s explanation since N.W.A. is “one of the biggest rap groups in history” and that people know of Dre and Cube beyond their endorsements. “Whatever stereotypes brings in the Benjamins,” they wrote. Meanwhile, The Root said “let’s not act like all black people know or like N.W.A,” adding “maybe they should’ve presented the fake trailers to the Academy members so the movie could have received more Oscar nominations.”

Twitter was quick to follow suit, as is its wont:


More in Marketing

Why the New York Times is forging connections with gamers as it diversifies its audience

The New York Times is not becoming a gaming company. But as it continues to diversify its editorial offerings for the digital era, the Times has embraced puzzle gamers as one of its core captive audiences, and it is taking ample advantage of its advantageous positioning in the space in 2024.

Why B2B marketers are advertising more like consumer brands to break through a crowded marketplace

Today’s marketing landscape is more fragmented than ever. Like consumer brands, business brands are looking to stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace, making marketing tactics like streaming ads, influencers and humorous spots more appealing.

As draft puts WNBA in spotlight, the NBA is speeding up ballplayers’ transition to creators

The NBA’s star athletes are its greatest marketing asset.