Racism is Everywhere

by snowflake26 on April 7, 2015 - 12:23am

Are the representations of marketing advertisements in the media ethical?

Advertising is “the placement of persuasive messages in any medium by an identified sponsor” (Tuckwell 281). Advertisements influence our lives. We see several of them everyday and make judgements. People that advertise have a lot of freedom when it comes advertising for their company, cause, charity, a product, or other things. They have this freedom because they can do a lot of things to, for example, make profits and raise awareness of a new product. Advertisements have existed for decades and the problem that is going to be focused in this post is racism on the advertisements. Old advertisements will be compared to new ones to show how although relations between races have changed in the real world, racism is still portrayed quite obviously and harshly in advertisements today.


In 1935, the company called “Elliott’s White Veneer” created a paint advertisement. The advertisement is about how white the paint is and to demonstrate that, there are two African-American little boys and one of them is painting the white paint on the other one. As a quote, on top of the advertisement page, it says: “See how it covers over black”. This ad is very harsh and racist. It is wrong and unethical to portray a race in such a disrespectful way. To promote the company, they could have just put a black board or a wall and a person painting it white instead of two African-American boys. It is unbelievable how people were so oblivious to the fact that two cartoon characters are being portrayed as African-Americans and that their skin color is being compared to white paint. (http://thoughtcatalog.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/omicvine-com.jpeg)


Another advertisement poster that reveals racism is the Pears’ soap company. This company still exists today, and it is hard to believe that this company had released very racial and controversial advertisements to promote and sell their product. One of the posters portrayed an American man who is at the sink washing is hands, and if the poster is looked at closely, at the right bottom corner, there is an African person who is sort of kneeling down/begging to an American man who looks like he is giving the soap to the African man. Right beside both these two figures, is a big box that says “Pears’ Soap” on it. This advertisement probably is implying that the Africans are dirty and they should clean themselves up with the Pears’ soap. The company is creating a false perception of Africans and making people believe that the soap is so special. Also, on the left bottom corner, there is a ship that is delivering more big boxes of Pears’ soap to the Africans. Indirectly, it shows how they are forcing their culture and practices onto the Africans and that is wrong. The way that Africans are portrayed in this advertisement is unethical because there are so many other ways the soap could have been advertised.(http://thoughtcatalog.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/vintage-ads-livejournal-com.jpeg)


The last old advertisement poster that will be discussed in this post is one of the harshest and disrespectful posters I have ever seen. It is an ad for Dr. Fred Palmer’s Skin Whitener. The poster features an African American woman which changes the whole perspective of the advertisement because if it was an American woman on the poster, people would not take the ad seriously since a lot of people were racist back then. On the ad, as a quote, it says: “add sparkle to our life with a lighter, clearer skin”. It is not necessary to make a product that could lighten one’s skin. This advertisement shows how some people would go to the extremes of bashing other peoples’ cultures and races, even indirectly through advertisements and that is unethical. There should be standards and requirement on how an advertisement should be. Imagine how the African-Americans would have felt if they saw there was a cream for whitening their sin. They would have felt even more like an outcast and would have felt even more insecure about their skin color. Companies that advertisement their products have no right to violate or mock one’s race or culture because it is unethical. In the Palmer’s ad, it says “an exclusive formula for a lighter, smoother, lovelier complexion... and a happier, more youthful you”. Removing the word “lighter” could have easily eliminated this advertisement poster’s racist implications. People would not have noticed it, but still could have bought the product, which means that the fact that the people who made the advertisement thought carefully about targeting the minority population also, and that is unethical.(http://ak-hdl.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/webdr01/2013/7/12/13/enhanced-buzz-3405-1373648870-17.jpg)


In today’s world, racism still exists. There are many recent advertisement posters that have revealed racism and have raised controversy. That is the main difference between the old days and today. People recognize that what the marketing advertisements are demonstrating is wrong and unethical. Then, people spread awareness that such advertisements are wrong and they gain power as a community, and at last, the advertisement can be taken down. People know that racism is wrong, so when it is portrayed in advertisements, they know it is unethical and disrespectful. Nonetheless, there are companies that will create racist advertisements, unintentionally or on purpose.


Recently, PlayStation advertised for their upcoming PlayStation portable in white. The poster portrays two women of complete opposite skin colors. Their skin tones are very exaggerated; one woman is white and the other one is black. The white woman looks like she is attacking/overruling the black woman. This demonstrates how the white people thought/think of themselves as superior to the black people. Also, the white woman looks very controlling and furious, while the black woman looks sort of helpless. Creating and publicizing an ad like this is wrong and unethical because it is attacking one’s race and culture.(http://atlantablackstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/sony-white-vs-black-ad.jpg)


The well-known brand, Dove, released an advertisement once. It is racist, and therefore controversial. The advertisement shows how it moisturizes and clears the skin, leaving it refreshed and moisturized. As a picture of dry skin is beside a picture of moisturized skin (the result) is being compared, at the bottom stands three women. The women standing right under the unmoisturized and dry skin has a darker skin tone than the women standing in between the two pictures. The women standing right under the moisturized and fresh-looking skin has the lightest skin tone out of all three women. The three women are standing in the order of the darkest skin tone to the lightest skin and are being portrayed in order from the worst skin to the best skin. Advertisements should not portray people is such ways. It is unethical because there are many other ways in which the Dove soap could have been advertised. Just the two pictures of the skins being compared would have been sufficient.               (http://atlantablackstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/dove.png)



Works Cited


Tuckwell, Keith J. Think Marketing. Toronto: Pearson, 2013. Print.







I think you brought a very good perspective on all of these ads. By comparing the most recent ones with the older ones, it demonstrated how racism kind of “evolved” in the media. Also, it demonstrated how people were desensitized to racism back in the twentieth century. And as you said, racism still exists. Even though people know it’s wrong, major companies do keep on creating these offensive ads without even realizing how harmful they can be. There is this website called http://www.stopracism.ca/content/racism-and-media that talks about the different forms of racism, and more precisely on how the media perpetuate racism. It is very interesting and I invite you to read it.

Your text shows a deeper understanding of the mass media and advertisement of racism. Racism in mass media all started with the black community that was often stereotyped as “male gangsters” or “drug dealers” according to this page put up by Yale University. http://www.yale.edu/ypq/articles/oct99/oct99b.html
Due to all this bad press coverage, they went through all kinds of rejections and threats from their society. They battled this rejection until they were free from racism. African-Americans were often subject to racism and if we relate with today’s news, Muslims are now the main subject of racism in the mass media. They are very often interrelated with “terrorism” and now, normal Muslims citizens are affected of this generalization. This subject relates to my final project, which talks about how Muslim women are rejected from society because of their hijab. They are attacked on the streets and are being bullied for being who they are. They are going through the same path as the African-Americans went through a few years earlier and they are now defending themselves as most as possible. My final project consists of volunteering with Justice Femme, an organization that helps these women to be integrated in our society despite the constant hate the mass media does to them. If you are interested to contribute to this organization, here’s a link with more information about this group. : http://newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/flacks-newsactivist-winter-2015-...

About the author