A History of African-American Advertising

A History of African-American Advertising

By Bob Fagan on Feb 04, 2014

February is African-American History month. The One Club put together a short video entitled, “A History of African-American Advertising,” that debuted at the annual Here Are All The Black People event last September.

While African-Americans were featured early on in advertisements, most depictions were derogatory. That changed early in the 20th century when men like Claude Barnett realized the consumer market the African-American community had become. Blacks were increasingly making more money and, in turn, had more money to spend. Products specifically made for African-Americans began to be manufactured and marketed directly to them. Most of these products were made by African- American owned companies, and sold through black owned agencies and newspapers.

When the African-American market became big, mainstream companies realized the advertising potential. White-owned companies started to sell and market their products to the black community. They also started to hire African-Americans to sell to that market. Furthermore, special marketing teams were set up in ad agencies, and were trained to make ads geared towards the African-American consumer.

This led to the end of an era of black-owned ad agencies and marking the struggle to diversify the advertising industry.



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