Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry

By Jason Chambers | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Golden Age

When they made a flesh-colored Band-Aid, baby, they didn’t have us in
mind
.

—Godfrey Cambridge, 1970

Although black comedian Godfrey Cambridge was joking about BandAids, a stark truth lay behind his assertion. The makers of the popular but pink-toned Band-Aid overlooked that, in fact, it did not match all flesh tones. His joke encapsulated the long-held belief among black consumers that consumer product manufacturers and their advertisers ignored them in creating and advertising many products. Of course, history demonstrates that being ignored as a consumer group and receiving unequal treatment in consumer spaces were routine experiences for blacks for much of the twentieth century. However, as the consumer-oriented protests of the late 1950s and early 1960s demonstrated, black consumers had grown unwilling to continue to accept such disregard. For the advertising industry, blacks’ activism, combined with the public scrutiny from government organizations, necessitated a simultaneous change in both employees and the creation of advertisements.

But in the mid- to late 1960s, concurrent with the shift in emphasis on blacks’ employment in the industry—from simply hiring qualified minorities to the development of active recruitment and training— there was also a shift in argument on how to approach the black consumer market. In the early 1960s, the weight had been on the creation of integrated advertisements to be placed in general media. Now, whereas trade journalists once confidently argued that blacks wanted advertisements and marketing approaches that reflected a desire for assimilation into white society, the rising cry of “Black Power” placed those traditional approaches in doubt. Instead, agency executives were increasingly told that black consumers wanted to see unique representations that reflected knowledge of blacks’ lifestyle, culture, and aspira

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Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Rise of Black Consumer Marketing 20
  • Chapter 2 - The Jackie Robinsons of Advertising and Selling 58
  • Chapter 3 - Civil Rights and the Advertising Industry 113
  • Chapter 4 - Affirmative Action and the Search for White Collars 157
  • Chapter 5 - The Golden Age 206
  • Epilogue 259
  • Notes 273
  • Index 307
  • Acknowledgments 321
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