Diversity in Advertising:
A Summary and Research Agenda
Jerome D. Williams
The University of Texas at Austin
Carrie La Ferle
Michigan State University
Advertising isamajor tool of the capitalist system in the United States andhas contributed to one of the highest standardsof living in the world. In 2003, the U. S. advertising industry was reported to generate $245 billion dollars in annual spending (Mc Carthy &Howard, 2003). Quite frequently, advertising expenditures account for approximately 3% of a developed country'sgross nationalproduct and the U. S. often leadsthis rate with $534.8 spent per capita in 2002 (Frith &Mueller, 2003). Numbers likethese areevidence that advertising isa powerful economic force and an important institution in the United States (Carey, 1989).
Similarly, advertising isalso a powerful social and culturalforce in American society (Jhally, 1995; Pollay, 1986). Advertising has been attributed as being both a mirror of societal values and amolder of ourbeliefs and norms (Holbrook, 1987; Lantos, 1987; Pollay, 1986). In fact, manywould argue that, with the current level of media and technology available, advertising and the mass media have become more powerful than otherinstitutions such as education, religion, and even the family (Pollay, 1986). With advertising'sability to yield both economic and culturalpower, it is important for advertisers and consumer researchers to understand how it is by andinfluences individuals in society. This point is particularly true in light of the major demographic shifts occurring in the United States. For example, people over 50 years of age will soon makeup the largest age groupin