The 1960s and 1970s: Representation Improves, But Is It Positive?
From the 1960s onward, efforts to target minorities improved as marketers recognized African American buying power. Unfortunately, corporations interested in minority-targeted marketing focused primarily and blatantly on marketing harmful products, such as alcohol and tobacco, directly to African American consumers in the black print and broadcast media. The prevalence of advertising for alcohol and tobacco was eventually attacked by the educated African American elites; rampant alcoholism and tobacco use were vices that threatened to destroy the quality of life in black families and led to campaigns to reject sponsorship of corporations that sold those products. In addition, hair care and skin care products, a billion-dollar industry, were marketed by promoting the European ideal of beauty. These products pushed blacks to use harmful chemicals on their hair and skin in order to assimilate into the mainstream community; this attempt to adapt led to a negative self-image based on cultural rejection of their natural appearance and beauty. Furthermore, the marketing of luxury items such as Cadillacs, while appropriate for the small community of middle-class blacks, also influenced poor urban black communities to engage in splurging on products that they could not afford.