THE DQ "DREAMS" COMMERCIAL
RYUN YU: No - but it is great that they're out there!
US ASIANS: In the final analysis of living in the U.S.'s "hyphenated society" at this time, has being Asian (where you are telegraphing your identity through your physical characteristics) provided you the ability to explore and create without boundaries?
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: Realizing the boundaries and limitations I face as and actor, I try my best to see the glass half full and place more responsibility on myself than others. Even if that means I have to work ten times harder than the next actor to get the part then that's what I have to do. Sometimes it is hard not to get discouraged but if it came easy, we wouldn't have anything to talk about right?
RYUN YU: No, but boundaries are often a great help to creativity. It has pushed me, daunted me at times, but made me what I am today. It has given me more fight than I would've had otherwise…
US ASIANS: What will it take for the general public and Hollywood to accept "blind-casting" choices such as your participation in the Daisy Queen commercial - along with other examples such as Jonathan Pryce playing an Asian character, James Earl Jones can playing Italian characters and B. D. Wong playing a Jewish character?
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: Like anything else you might be taken off guard at first but with time and more exposure you become more and more accustomed to it. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to utilize "blind-casting" and the public will be exposed to more diversity in all types of media.
RYUN YU: When they are really effective, and deliver something artistically, something of value. If we can prove that these things intrigue the public ( or that the talent of the actor trumps the ethnicity of the actor) then we are home free.
US ASIANS: Do you feel that when a commercial displays a group of people representing the consumers of the general public, that Asian/Asian Pacific Americans should be represented?
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: I think we should be considered but I don't feel that we are automatically entitled.
US ASIANS: Do you feel that there should be commercials that specifically targets Asian/Asian Pacific American consumers should be presented on American television, since this is being done with the Black and Hispanic communities?
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: Sure, if that is the market they are trying to target.
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN CONSUMERS
MICHAEL KELLER: No we don't. Actually, we don't know much about the ethnic diversity of our current customers and we don't' ask that many questions about it. There is sort of a universal love for treats and fast food and we haven't really gotten too deep as a marketer into marketing to the various important ethnic groups in the country. And so we don't' have a goal either, except that we'd like customer of all nationalities enjoy our treats and our food and visit our stores.
US ASIANS: What would you say the awareness of Dairy Queen within the Asian/Asian Pacific American/Multi-ethnic consumers differ from your company's awareness within the general public?
MICHAEL KELLER: I don't know. I assume it would vary by market and given how large the population is. Because the DQ brand enjoys universal awareness, I would assume it is virtually universal throughout all of our customer groups as well.
MICHAEL KELLER: I'm not sure I can speculate. I don't know the talent industry that well and how it is structured nor do I know how much Asian talent is represented there and how it gets itself represented in casting calls and auditions.
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: Those are all contributing factors and it baffles me that even more established actors like Lea Salonga are having problems finding work. And if they can't find work than it's even harder for an even less established actor like me (sigh). The commercial world is starting to open up but most other avenues remain limited. I can only hope that with persistence and determination we will be able to create more opportunities for ourselves in the future.
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
MICHAEL KELLER: I don't think we have been nor have we ever gone hunting for them either. To the extent that we found and event in a given market that made sense for the brand, that made sense for our target audience and made sense economically for our franchisees in that market, we would entertain that. In terms of blind casting, we are blind promoting. We just look for great ideas that make sense for our brand and our customers.
US ASIANS: How should the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities/consumers embrace the Dairy Queen commercial that features two APA actors?
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: Hopefully they will continue to be supportive and provide positive reinforcement.
RYUN YU: However they want to. If it makes them laugh, charms them, makes them want to eat Dairy Queen - awesome. If they get annoyed by it, don't think it's funny - then they should express that. I'm not a big fan of "should."
US ASIANS: What can the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities/consumers/media do to work together with Dairy Queen and Grey to continue their efforts and/or supporting your "blind-casting" position that extends beyond just buying Diary Queen's food/drinks?
MICHAEL KELLER: Nothing can or needs to be done from an organized or a movement standpoint. Probably the best thing the Asian community can do if it likes what it saw here is do what we'd hope the advertising would do to begin with which is to encourage them to visit a DQ, with friends and family. Have a great treat or burger and fries, have a great overall experience and become as loyal a customer as they would like to be. It seems to me that their loyalty to DQ and their visitation to DQ would speak volumes to how they feel about having seen Asian Americans so well represented in our advertising.
SHIREEN NOMURA MUI: It's great for publications such as yours to address these issues and generate a discussion to help us bring these issues to the forefront. It is important to be vocal and prominent in the minds of those who are in a position to help further these efforts.
RYUN YU: Support their local Asian artists. Fund their films. When an artist puts something out there that makes an impact, new imaginative space is created for us in this society…this will benefit APA's in untold ways.
US ASIANS: Has any Asian/Asian Pacific American and/or Multi-ethnic organizations have honored any of you for your respective creative efforts, along with your stance on "blind-casting (beyond the two Cannes Gold Lions, Addys (Best of Show) Andys, Clios, CA, D&AD, Ad Age's Best and Adweek's listing of the 100 Best Commercials of the Century that's been seen on 21 cable networks such as MTV, Comedy Central, ESPN and USA Network - along with ABC, NBC and CBS for Jonathan)?
MICHAEL KELLER: No
JONATHAN RODGERS: We have yet to receive any honors from multi-ethnic organizations. I personally have received the "People's Choice of Hong Kong" award for McDonald's advertising in 1997.