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Advertising and Race

Global Phenomenon, Historical Challenges, and Visual Strategies

Linda C. L. Fu

Since colonization, dominant ideologies of «race» have been visualized and communicated through advertising. At its core, this book delineates the continuities and changes in what is termed the «colonial racial script» within global advertising representations. The origins of that script are traced back to the eighteenth century – through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the age of High Imperialism, the post-World War II era to the current stage of globalization – and are identified and analyzed.
From ads selling slaves to the ones promoting the ideal of equality, from the campaigns generating new racial currencies to the ones turning down the existing racist overtones, Linda C. L. Fu examines over 100 advertisements and draws on a 300-year span of references to reveal the plurality, chaos, variation, and resilience of the colonial concepts of race in society through advertising discourses in the West.
Advertising and Race is the first book devoted exclusively to the study of strategic deployments of racial tropes in advertising amid waves of historical challenges. With a well-mixed theoretical, historical, social, and professional narrative, it presents a new approach, critical insight, and a comprehensive reference for the study of advertising and communication, as well as the study of race, society, culture, and globalization.
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Chapter 6: Race in Commercial Campaigns


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Three major makeovers of brand identities between the 1980s and the 2000s are examined in this section—all with a theme that is typically redemptive in nature. While enjoying a high status in their respective industries (oral hygiene, sport, and confectionery), all three brands suffered from a common trait. That is, their existing trademarks and logos were historically marked by a racist overtone that had damaged and could have further damaged the brand’s reputation and business prospects if changes were not forthcoming. These makeovers represent different strategies for managing such pressing needs by making good their otherwise problematic branding images in the age of contemporary globalization, and by telling the story that they have moved on and changed for the new era.

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