In todays society, the media has a major impact on the world around us. However, it is suggested that the media depicts and portrays certain ethic and racial groups in a negative perspective. Studies show that television programs and commercials mostly show minority ethic groups in scenes that only display violence and crime. In this study, I examine how minority groups are portrayed in network television commercials. I will use examples of commercials from major networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC as a source for my content analysis. The content analysis will demonstrate that my hypothesis -With the low percentage of African Americans and Hispanics present in prime-time commercials, are they appropriately represented as a ethic group in the media? If not, how can this problem be addressed and what ways would society go about strengthening the perceptions of African Americans and Hispanics in the media.
Keywords: African American, Hispanic, minority, network commercials, blacks,
The television is viewed my by millions of people every second of the day and its has become the most popular medium for advertising. In the average household, at least 30 hours a week a television is on; one-fifth of that consists of advertising broadcasts. However, African Americans and hispanics are limited to a form of stereotypical roles on network television. The economic and demographic trends of the late 1980’s and 1990’s, along with the increase in cultural awareness, encouraged advertisers to move into more culturally inclusive marketing strategies (Brown, 1999). Advertisers believe that to sell certain products and reach a subculture advertising should be done through mass media. With the common use of this strategy, its important to understand the way advertisers present race.
In a 1984 study, it was discovered that revealed that African Americans appeared in 2400 of the 904 network commercials with live models in the broadcast during the week the stay was conducted. From those 240 commercials casting black models, more than half featured only black males; fewer than one in five ads with black models included women. The study also analyzed the frequency of African Americans and Hispanics in a commercial, the importance of the minority model to the commercial, and the type of product being advertising during the commercial. Previous literature seem to concentrate on broadcast television and how they associate African Americans and Hispanics with acts of violence; People of color have been marginalized on prime-time television and commercials. Although the numerical representation of African Americans in television has grown, the portrayal of them is still far from ideal.
In the article Hispanics and Black in Television Commercials, researchers Robert E. Wilkes and Humberto Valencia discuss how network television portrays minority groups, mainly African Americans and Hispanics. On the three major U.S. television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, most commercials featuring minorities are more likely to be integrated among race. Only 26 percent of all ads with live models are black and six percent of commercials with live models are Hispanic on network television. The first main point this article discusses is the importance of African Americans and Hispanics in television advertising. The purpose of these studies were not to determine the amount of minorities shown in television advertising but to determine if the general audience recognizes the presence of minorities in commercials.
In order for these advertisements to be effective, there are a few social and cultural strategies used to portray blacks and Hispanics. One of those strategies is determining whether these advertisements should be placed in the general media such as CBS television and Time magazine or in culturally-specific media that only targets on a specific audience such as Essence magazine. However other researchers suggest