Study Finds Racial Bias in Advertising Industry

Researchers say disparity is widespread problem

a $250,000 commitment last spring to the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University. The donation establish the Center of Excellence in Advertising, a program designed to attract middle to senior management alumni from any historically black college and university. The program will also provide $250,000 every year for four years as long as the center is able to obtain matching contributions.

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  • Wow, very interesting!


  • Doesn’t it seem like we “discover” America every five years or so? As if the problem has not been staring us in our faces all along. In fact, this kind of virulent racism and discrimination is in every area of image making: advertising, fashion, magazines, film, stage, television, and even social media (though I think we can save the latter if we move aggressively to claim new media territory). Do you think things will be different in the “Age of Obama?”

  • Here’s a better question. Is it safe to say that if whites monopolize the decision making process in the advertising industry, they also have the ability determine the success of the media outlets that receive those vital dollars being spent by their clients.

    The range of products being pitched at African-Americans via the radio, TV networks and websites that cater to them seems to be quite limited. But, the truth is most of the products we consume are the same as those white people consume.

    I’m tired of seeing McDonalds, Ford, Cadillac and KFC a million times a day.

    As an owner of a website, I know first hand that the advertising dollars being spent on “urban” outlets and the number of companies spending those dollars is very limited. That needs to be addressed as well.

  • Ms Carrie

    Hmmm… Good article! Obviously we all knew about the bias before the study was conducted. Kudos to the NAACP for an effort that appears to be only a pin prick compared to the size of the problem. But a pin prick is all that is needed to deflate a balloon. The advertising medium has ballooned out of control in this country in terms of formulating and perpetuating stereotypes. It’s no great surprise that people of color are marginalized in employment in this industry. Look at how we are represented in the media. (Or not represented in so many cases). Racism in advertising will not easily be eradicated because the negative ideas about blacks are so deeply entrenched in this almost lily white bastion of white supremacy. (Okay I’m bitter but with good reason!)
    Ms Hill said it plainly in the article in advertising double-speak: “…nothing to do with skin color, but is simply a case of being the “right person at the right time.” What? Are we sure that “AAAA” doesn’t stand for Advertising Against African-Americans? Ms. Hill is also chief diversity officer at AAAA. Maybe they need to do some more hiring.

  • Ms. Grant

    These are very solvable problems, give me the list of companies who are excluding “us”, I will exclude them! We have allot of power with our dollars. I also agree with a statement made above, there are allot of advertisements made toward inner-city type folks, most African Americans live in Rural areas and I never see us represented. I don’t want to beg people to change, I think we should build our own enterprise that is more attractive and pull people in who want to be apart of it ,there by making our enterprise the “mainstream”. That is where the power is. Not begging people to treat us right, waiting for it to happen, and keeping them in power in the process!

  • Pingback: New Study Shows Significant Racial Disparities in The Ad Industry : JOBMATCHBOX()

  • I live in a small city in upstate NY (population approximately 100,000)!

    I am currently offering free professional funeral program designs, along with matching prayer cards, acknowledgement cards, etc. in exchange for doing printing we our company.

    The people who we have done business for are overwhelm and emotionally joyful at what we have done for them in regard to assisting them to represent their love ones in a high regard.

    The problem is that I am an African American and there are only two African American Funeral Homes within 50 – 80 miles radius.

    However, there are a few White owned funeral homes that many African Americans does business with.

    When I try to set up appointments to do a presentation with these White owned funeral homes, They seem to ignor my existence, even though what it is I am doing brings overwhelming joy to the families that we have served.

    They are quick to take African Americans money, but they will not do business with the sons and daughters of African Americans.

    Any suggestions?

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