And now for a little advertising history lesson... The year was 1967, and the American Civil Rights Movement was at its zenith. After years of struggle to seek equality in the United States, African-Americans had won a series of stunning legal and moral victories. What they had not yet won, apparently, was the right to not be imitated by white people in advertising. Huh? Let me set the stage first. Here’s an ad for Coca-Cola that ran in the August 18 issue of Life magazine: OK, so what’s the problem you ask? Well, usually when a company wants to sell their product to different racial or ethnic groups, they use people from those groups. Like these Coke ads from black magazines in the same year: But apparently there was a severe shortage of African Americans with t
I don't want to give away too much of the Best Music of 2011 list that will run in December, but I can say with confidence that the latest album from Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey -- Race Riot Suite -- will be included. Race Riot Suite -- composed by Chris Combs, the group's lap steel player -- draws deeply from the well of pre-Swing jazz, but incorporates it into a series of distinctly modern arrangements. It's a remarkable achievement in modern jazz, even without the tragic back story. But once you know the story behind the music, its power is increased tenfold. In 1921, Tulsa was home to a powerful and affluent African-American community. In one of the largest racial conflicts and cover-ups in American history, massive race riots resulted in the death of hundre...
As a middle-class white male, I know I'm not really in much of a position to bitch about being overlooked or disadvantaged. Still, I'll admit feeling a bit like the odd man out when one of my (formerly) favorite fast food establishments, McDonald's, launched their "I'm Lovin' It" ad campaign in 2003. Few things are more transparent and painful than when a business makes an obvious attempt to pander to minorities, because they usually do such a piss poor job. Oh sure, fast food chains targeting black people is nothing new, so that's no big deal in and of itself. But historically for TV ads, it seems the chains had their regular campaigns and then they had their "black" ads, replete with awful R&B-esque music and sad attempts to look hip. But McDonald's took it to a whole new leve
You wouldn't know it these days, but it is in fact possible to market fast food to black Americans without acting as if they all loved either lame rap or watered down R&B; or as if they all spoke whatever the hip, urban vernacular of the day is (yes, I'm aware of just how painfully white that sentence makes me seem). And I have the proof right here, in the form of two vintage Burger King print advertisements from 1976. There's no pandering or awkward attempts to integrate African-American culture here. Well, perhaps a small one in the first ad (can you spot it?). Your eye may first be drawn by those groovy fashions, but I immediately took note of the old-school wood decor found in BK establishments of the time. Sadly, that wooden sign and many like it are either rottin