Racist Stereotypes in Advertisements

In our lives, we have seen and watched many advertisements that had a little hint of racial stereotypes. They have become so much of the norm for us that we sometimes don’t even know it. Even though racial stereotyping for advertisements is common, does that mean it is right?

“It’s easy to laugh at any of the most egregious stereotypes from the safety of your living room.” – Michael Owens


Making racism the norm for advertisement may be good to help one product sell but it does not help in the long run. Advertisements affect people more than they might think.

Advertisers should have ethical responsibilities – For example, growing up in San Jose I have mainly only been surrounded by mainly Asian and Hispanic culture. When going to college, my thoughts of what Caucasian people were like were all from television. When I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic, I became friends with these two guys my age from Montana. It was extremely surprising to me when the first thing they said to me after meeting me was, “You are the first Asian person we ever met.” For the next hour they were just throwing stereotypical questions at me. “Do you actually eat dogs?”, “Do you know Kung Fu?”, and a few other questions in that area. Relating back to the quote by Michael Owens, I didn’t think much about the stereotypes of white Americans when first going into college. But after experiencing how other people react to a minority they haven’t had much contact with, it made me learn to keep an open mind.

Racial advertisement over time will only help you buy products from a certain group of people. This will work at first, but overtime if you keep doing this, your target group could even go against you.


Is racism in advertisements getting better? Even though as a whole, advertisement is getting better when it comes to not stereotyping, there is still a lot out there. The ad above is from a Dove campaign trying to convince woman that it isn’t necessary to go out to a spa to make your skin beautiful. You could do it from “the most unexpected of places – your shower.” In the ad, they had three woman standing from darkest to lightest skin tone. Behind them showed the rough skin before using their product.

At the same time, creativity is getting bashed on by critics when they were not intentionally made to be racist. Above there is a Mountain Dew ad that was taken down. People criticized the ad for being racist by saying there were only black people in the lineup. The advertisement was created by Odd Future’s co-founder Tyler, the Creator. The people in the lineup were members from the Odd Future hip hop group.

Just like a lot of things, in time,  advertisement will get better when it comes to not having to result to racial stereotypes to attract their customers.

Source: Racial Stereotypes and The Art of Advertising


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