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Week 9 - Lesson

Week 9 - Lesson

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Published by: Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams on May 01, 2011
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WK 9 – Lesson PlanAdvertising is omnipresent in America. It is everywhere; in our homes, on our clothes,and even in our high school classrooms where companies exchange much needed mediaresources as televisions, computers, and media players for a young captive audience. Arthur AsaBerger (2000) claims that the $200 billion a year advertising industry exposes every American tonearly 15,000 images per day, yet advertising is so deeply embedded in our culture that it oftengoes unnoticed (p. 1, 81). The multitude of commercials that Americans are exposed to on adaily basis marginalizes minority groups by reinforcing traditional cultural standards throughcovert acts of heterosexism, racism, sexism, and classism. The purpose of this research project isto expose marginalizing advertising “behavior” through a content review and analysis of imagesin advertising in popular U.S. magazines.
Methodology
Marginalization in advertising, as a topic, is a broad area of research; therefore, the focusof this research project is on racism that occurs in the advertising of popular magazines withreference to African-American woman. The majority of the magazines included in this contentanalysis research are in the top twenty lists for magazine sales in America, including the twonumber one selling women’s and men’s magazines: Cosmopolitan and Maxim(Allyoucanread.com, 2004). The magazines reviewed are nearly all “individual” oriented (rather than niche magazines which feature cars, homes, or photography) and are geared toward “self  promotion.”The process of gathering the data for this research includes indicating the title, date,and/or issue of each magazine, the number of pages, as well as counting each specific instancewhen a minority person is visible in any image in the magazine. In images containing more than
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one person, a description of the image along with any racial indicators is recorded, as is thespecific placement of the people in the images. It should be noted that in individual orientedmagazines the default image is a Caucasian person: each page has at least one image of aCaucasian person. In the event that the magazine is a special interest or non individual orientedmagazine, like
 Better Homes and Gardens
, the same methodology is used, but every personappearing in the magazine is tallied to obtain proportional data.Table 1 indicates the statistical data gathered in this research; the eighty-two magazinesreviewed for this project are all issues from the following magazines:
 Allure, American Baby, Baby Talk, Better Homes & Gardens, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Family Fun, Glamour,Good Housekeeping, Health, Ladies Home Journal, Marie Claire, Martha Stewart Living,Maxim, Mind Body Spirit Fitness, More, Parents, People, Runner’s World, Self, Shape, Stuff,Sunset, Teen Magazine, Teen People, Vibe,
and
Working Mother 
.This research is in its infancy and in the interest of saving time at this point the numbersin the table indicate the number of pages with any occurrences of African Americans versus thenumber of pages containing images of people of Caucasian ethnicity. At this time the data tabledoes not reflect the total number of people per image, nor does the data indicate if there is morethan one image per page (although in the future this is the preferred methodology). Thequantitative data results from the content analysis are that African American women are only six percent of the more than fifteen thousand total pages reviewed; African American men are just2% of all images reviewed for this project and African American children of both genders are1% of all images reviewed.During the course of this research deliberate patterns in advertising became apparent.The ways in which African American women are marginalized in print media are numerous and
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are analyzed according to the following categories: animalization, exoticism, literalmarginalization (or tokenism), and stereotyping. Some other less apparent methods of marginalizing minority women include manipulation of skin color, the straightening of hair, andspecifically placed marginalizing, hurtful, or stereotypical text.
An Historical Overview of Racism and Advertising
Racism is practiced in advertising today just as it was hundreds of years ago, though, themarginalization that occurs within the print ads of today is much more covert. Early advertisingwas more textually based and included racist remarks as “WHEN NATURE IS NIGGARDLY”within the headlines, like this 1922 rouge ad that appeared in the
 New York Times
(Ad Access,1999). Advertising today is image based, (See Figures B, B-2, C, and C-2 for a juxtaposition of a text based ad versus an image based ad). The racism within advertising is no longer textually based in its presentation—words like “niggardly” are a thing of the past—but it is still present ina more covert manner: through imagery. Advertising often goes unnoticed and is taken for granted because it is literally everywhere. Messages within the text and images of advertisingare easily recognized and also go unnoted, though it was not always this way: the advertisingliterate consumer of today was created through a long process that began in conjunction with therise of the capitalist culture. Nearly 600 years ago the idea that consumption is the path to happiness began tenure insome of the world's largest and most powerful nations, including in the United States (Robbins, p. ix). Evolving from this concept a new culture thriving on profit began to emerge: a capitalistculture. In the 1920s, the invention of mass production in America forever changed the labor market and with it the consumer culture (Ewen, 1999, p. 209). Prior to mass production, goodsand services were usually offered solely to the upper and middle class—a relatively small portion
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