Ethnics in Advertising

The color scheme of this page is purposefully simple, black and white. But, is this issue as simple as white and black? I don't think so. There are many underlying prevailing issues concerning the portrayals of ethnics (for this site, African-Americans) in mainstream advertising. I plan to explore some current mass communication theories to see what they tell us about are societal culture.

Media opportunities exist to reach virtually every major, and several minor, ethnic groups in the United States. Ethnic media are the fastest growing traditional media arenas. Inherent to their success is the receptivity of marketers to developing products and advertising targeted to these audiences (Myers, 1993). Marketers are faced with the challenge of determining how aggressively they can support these media.

Some argue that marketing efforts targeted toward ethnic groups smacks of pandering and takes advantage of specific ethnic characteristics for commercial gain. This issue is particularly evident in the alcohol and tobacco product categories. For example, African-American magazines are still inundated with slick and seductive advertisements for cigarettes like the Virginia Slims ad that follows. Is this ethical?