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Facebook users saw different Straight Outta Compton trailers depending on their race

on March 17, 2016, 10:15pm

Universal Pictures created two distinct trailers for their N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, one targeting white audiences and the other targeting black audiences.

Doug Neil, Universal’s Executive Vice President of Digital Marketing, and Jim Underwood, Facebook’s Global Head of Entertainment Strategy, revealed the radical advertising campaign during a panel at South by Southwest on Thursday, according to Business Insider. 

Universal took advantage of audience segmentation tools offered by Facebook ads. The trailer served to white audiences focused solely on Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, as Universal believed the demographic was more familiar with the pair’s post hip-hop career (as an actor and founder of Beats Electronics, respectively). In fact, the “white” trailer didn’t even make mention of N.W.A., instead selling the movie as a story documenting the rise of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.

The trailer marketed to black audiences, however, opened with the word “N.W.A.” and featured all members of the group throughout. Universal assumed most African Americans were already familiar with N.W.A., Neil said, adding, “They put Compton on the map.”

Neil called the marketing campaign “a complete success.”

Update – Friday, March 18th at 12:35 p.m. CT: Facebook has issued a statement to Consequence of Sound clarifying the comments made by Neil and Underwood yesterday. “Several news outlets have stated that Facebook allows advertisers to target ads based on race. That is not accurate. Facebook does not have a capability for people to self-identify by race or ethnicity on the platform. As part of its advertising offering, brands can target ads on Facebook to people based on how they might respond to content. The affinity segments are created, in a privacy-safe way, using signals such as different languages, likes, and group membership on the platform.”

Watch the two trailers for yourself below.

“White” trailer:

“Black” trailer:

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