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Advertising and People of Color

This article and our class discussion make me wonder whether or not advertising is to blame, or society is to blame for offensive ads. The advertising company, like any other company, is in the money making business. Advertisers want people to connect or relate to the ads so that they will pay attention to the product that is being advertised. They need to catch our attention some how, usually through humor. They also need to catch the majority’s attention. Back in 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s America was not very inclusive of the minorities living in the country. Advertisers were on a mission to target the majority of the population, which happened to be European American. In order to get the majority to buy products advertisers had to make their ads appealing to their target audience. So was racism appealing? Maybe appealing is not the right word, but racism was acceptable. The stereotypical images of minorities in advertising during these times were acceptable and probably humorous. I’m not afraid to admit that I found some of the ads that we read about in this article humorous. So does that make me a racist or ignorant?
When it comes to stereotypes, its easy to laugh at them if they are not related to the group of people you belong to. I honestly don’t think the Advertisement companies thought they were doing anything wrong until the groups they were portraying began to speak out about it. As for society, its almost the same story. After decades of acceptable racism and segregation why would these advertisements bother the majority? An interesting fact mentioned in the article was that the majority was more willing to accept black models with lighter skin than black models with darker skin. The idea that lighter skin was better or more beautiful had been enforced for decades. It’s not that society or the Advertisement companies were evil, they were just ignorant. If society had not been so screwed up, the ads would not have been so screwed up either. When I think about ads today, I think it’s safe to say that we have come a very long way. I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial I thought, “that must have offended someone out there?. Well… maybe there was that one Jimmy Jones commercial a while back, but other than that I think it’s been ok.

Comments

I thought you brought up a lot of interesting points. I agree that advertising companies are after money which leads them to target the majority audience. That led to some racism that may not have been intended. I also agree that a lot of it could have to do with ignorance, and that they really aren't out to hurt people.

I agree with the comment about the companies targeting the majority audience; in my opinion, that kind of strategy (if you could call it that) led to bad marketing back then. Stereotyping needs to stop, plain and simple.