The History of Blacks in Advertising Research Paper by Foxpoint6

The History of Blacks in Advertising
An examination of the misrepresentation of African Americans by early advertisers and the progression towards their depiction as positive role models.
# 108661 | 5,570 words | 13 sources | MLA | 1997 | US
Published on Oct 22, 2008 in Advertising (History) , African-American Studies (Racism) , Advertising (General)

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This paper examines the negative and racist stereotyping that African Americans have suffered as a result of advertising policies and practices. The writer discusses the literature and the research on this topic and summarizes some of the most important findings. Some significant and revealing statistics are presented as well. The writer also explains briefly how advertising works and its interdependent relationship with mass media. In addition, the writer examines how the featuring of blacks has changed from their first large scale appearance in mainstream advertising in the 1870s to the present day. In some cases, as in the portrayal of Aunt Jemima, the change has been minimal. In response to the fight from the civil rights movement in the 1960s, some large corporations began to target black consumers, and the growth in the 80s of a black middle-class further spurred marketers to an accurate, positive presentation of blacks. However, the writer explains that stereotyping is still present in advertising, albeit on a more subtle and subliminal level. The writer notes that the psychology of advertising does not leave anything to chance and that it caters to what are believed to be the perceptions of the viewer. Examples are given of advertisements that feed into the negative perceptions and the desire of the majority culture to be superior. The writer concludes that other minority groups, such as Asian Americans and Italians, are also depicted with negative images in advertising and that this kind of misrepresentation is becoming less and less tolerable in today's society. This paper includes a table about ads with black models.

From the Paper:

"From the history, it is evident that ethnic images become stereotypes when they ignore the humanity of a person by depicting them as having certain traits. When a group is seen as stupid, ugly, violent or comical and never portrayed as successful, skillful, intelligent or beautiful, stereotyping is present. Both positive and negative stereotypes can foster aggression, superiority or hatred. Blacks started to scrutinize the images that were printed simply because if others viewed them like that, they would too. Blacks began to realize that not all fit the description of the lazy, militant, alcoholic man or the happy, pregnant, servant woman."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • William M. O'Barr. Culture and the Ad: Exploring Others in the World of Advertising. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1994
  • Ronald Humphrey and Howard Schuman. "The Portrayal of blacks in Magazine Advertisements: 1950-1982" Public Opinion Quarterly. 48 (1984): 551-63.
  • George M. Zinkhan, et al. "The Use of Blacks in Magazine and Television Advertising: 1946-1986" Journalism Quarterly 66 (1990): 547-551.
  • J. David Colfax and Susan Frankel Sternberg. "The Perpetuation of Racial Stereotypes: blacks in Mass Circulations Magazine Advertisements" Public Opinion Quarterly 36 (1972): 9.

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