BLACKS IN ADVERTISING: CRITICS GIVE Two THUMBS UP
With pressures exerted on advertisers by various organizations, there were significantly more black faces seen selling an array of products during the 1960s. Attention then focused on the response of consumers to such portrayals. One of the chief concerns advertisers had about using black models was the response of white consumers. "Pressure for censorship in television dramatics came from sponsors, networks, advertising agencies and even production personnel. Above all, these elements feared offending the prejudices and the economic strength of their white audiences" ( MacDonald, 1983, p. 41). White consumers were the primary purchasers of most of the goods advertised, and alienating them would mean a significant decline in revenues.
One of the first companies to integrate its advertising was Level Brothers ( Cohen, 1970, p. 155). A pioneer in this area, the company did not experience any adverse reaction. However, this positive showing was not to continue, and other companies experienced somewhat different outcomes when attempting to integrate their advertising campaigns. One Rheingold beer advertisement showed an integrated beach in a resort area. The scene prompted widespread criticism from both blacks and whites and was ultimately withdrawn. The story did not end there, however, as the absence of a nonwhite finalist in its subsequent "Miss Rheingold" campaigns caused company officials to discontinue the program "since it created the image of 'lily white' in the minds of members of the nonwhite community" ( Collier, 1965, p. 134).
Another case occurred during the mid- 1950s. Fearing it too controversial for the South, the CBS sales department failed to obtain a sponsor for its
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Publication information: Book title: Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus:Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Contributors: Marilyn Kern-Foxworth - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 149.
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