Tag: race

Coca-Cola’s Contribution to the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s

Coca-Cola’s Contribution to the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s

Retrotisements
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
Here’s a Pair of Bizarre, Racist Catalog Pages from Old Sears Catalogs

Here’s a Pair of Bizarre, Racist Catalog Pages from Old Sears Catalogs

Ephemera
I wasn't planning on rolling out any of my Halloween-related posts until October, but this was so bizarre I just had to share it now. In searching old Sears catalogs for Halloween costumes -- as is my wont -- I came across these insane items. Let me just present them, and then we can chat. The first is a "Negro Makeup Outfit" from the Fall 1912 catalog: And up next is a group of costumes from the Fall 1920 catalog. It has classic Negro masks like Sporty Mose (sorry, collar and tie not included), Old Uncle Joe, and Aunt Dinah (a Negress outfit not complete without this mask!). Oh, and if you really want to go hog wild you can get one of the full body suits -- there’s the Ridiculous Yellow Kid, the Japanese Lady, and the Negro Minstrel Suit (suitable for hometown shows, no less).
Album cover of the week: Ike and Tina Turner — Outta Season

Album cover of the week: Ike and Tina Turner — Outta Season

Album Cover of the Week, Music
As provocative album covers go, Ike and Tina Turner's Outta Season LP has to be one of the greats. The image of the couple eating watermelon while wearing whiteface -- a brilliant mockery of blackface minstrelsy -- would be controversial now, so the fact that this was released in 1968 is even more amazing. Not surprisingly, the foreign versions of Outta Season featured much more unimaginative album art. I don't know if they featured the super sexy gatefold picture the original U.S. edition (on Blue Thumb Records) had.
Sunday Jazz: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s ‘Race Riot Suite’

Sunday Jazz: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s ‘Race Riot Suite’

Music, Sunday Jazz
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...
More Posters of the WPA (Works Progress Administration)

More Posters of the WPA (Works Progress Administration)

Ephemera, Featured Posts
Just when you thought you'd seen the last (well, only) gallery of posters from the Works Progress Administration, BAM! Here comes another one, only four years later. According to Wikipedia, the WPA was the largest and most ambitious of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal agencies, employing millions of workers to carry out public works projects. Agency workers constructed public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. Nearly every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western areas. The budget at the outset of the WPA in 1935 was $1.4 billion a year (about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP), and in total it spent $13.4 billion. That's all well and g...
Commercials I hate – AT&T Rethink Possible

Commercials I hate – AT&T Rethink Possible

Advertising
In the never-ending smart phone arms race, providers are becoming increasingly desperate to prove to consumers just how life-changing their products are. AT&T recently upped the ante by linking the speed of their 3G network to the very future of our country's leadership. Oh well isn't that just precious.  Look at the vaguely ethnic couple and their awesome kid. What the hell are they anyway?  Latino?  Native American? Even worse, am I alone in thinking that those two look like brother and sister?  Creepy. And speaking of creepy - thanks to AT&T's powerful 3G network, you can increase the efficiency of your stalking by 73%! All this wouldn't be so bad if they didn't run this commercial eight billion times a day.  Ugh.
I have a dream that one day, faceless corporations will pander to me based on my skin color

I have a dream that one day, faceless corporations will pander to me based on my skin color

Advertising
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
Retrotisements – Burger King ’76

Retrotisements – Burger King ’76

Retrotisements
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
With this ring…

With this ring…

Advertising
The January/February 2008 issue of The History Channel Magazine (yes I subscribe) features some excellent content to commemorate Black History Month - a profile of prominent lawyer and rights activist William Henry Lewis and an expose of so-called sundown towns among them. So imagine my dismay when I saw a full-page ad in the same issue for this: Yeah I know that the reasons for the secession of the Southern states and the Civil War are numerous and complicated, but come on. This really is too much. Without even commenting on the utter tackiness of the ring itself - which I would expect to be worn by someone appearing on an episode of Cops - am I the only one who finds it a tad inappropriate that this thing is being advertised in the same issue of a magazine that shows pictures...