History of Marketing Strategies to Reach African Americans Essay

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There are three advertisements that come to mind when people think of products featuring African Americans: Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, and Rastus the Cream of Wheat Chef. These three faces came about in the late 1890s to show wholesome, delicious, southern cooked meals. It took the Black Power protests to start the forcing of the change of view of African Americans in advertising. According to the Museum of Public Relations, “Advertisers were forced to acknowledge that African-Americans were intelligent consumers who would not buy products by companies that refused to represent their lifestyle in commercials and print ads.” So African Americans started to encourage others to “Buy Black” and support black owned businesses. Targeting advertisement s to African Americans hit a high peak around the 1970s. One of the backbones of advertisements no matter where you look is that of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry has disproportionately spent advertising dollars targeted at African American smokers. In 1981, a Reynolds ad plan stated that "[t]he majority of Blacks do not respond well to sophisticated or subtle humor in advertising. They related to overt, clear-cut story lines." Almost 60% of the billboards in the African American neighborhoods advertised cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in 1987, according to Targeting of African Americans. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that billboards advertising tobacco products are placed in African-American communities nearly five times more often than in white communities. In 1995, a cigarette distributor in Massachusetts packaged cigarettes in three colors: red, black and green. The distributor placed an X on them and called them Menthol X. Red, black, and green are the symbolic colors of black liberation and "X" is associated with Malcom X. These facts can lead one to see just how

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