Our next reading is from a 1981 essay by the cultural theorist, Stuart Hall. In this article, entitled The Whites of Their Eyes, Hall examines the ways in which mass media have perpetuated racist ideologies. Here is a PDF:

Your post for this reading will be a little different. Instead of writing 3-4 paragraphs, please identify and document 3-4 advertisements in recent magazines, web pages, posters, billboards, etc. where race, ethnicity, gender or cultural identity play a role in shaping a brand’s message.

Note that race, gender and identity can be used in a positive, embracing way, or in a cynical, negative manner; or it may be difficult to tell. The most interesting ads are probably the most subtle.

Post ads that you encounter this week, after completing the reading. And please note that they do not need to be racist or sexist per se. We’ve all seen some of the widely publicized missteps from companies such as H&M, Dove, Sony, etc. …These are all very obvious. They really don’t require critical examination and we really don’t need to see them again. Do not post them.

Look for nuanced ads in which it is clear that the advertising is aware of identity and representation. Try to find ads that show diversity in a productive and celebratory light.

Post phone pics, scans or screenshots of your selected ads with short captions describing the image and the source from which the image was found.

Here are three examples of ads that I have found recently, which I think are very interesting…

The above image is a spread that I came across in The New Yorker. I believe Tiffany & Co. is embracing the idea of blackness, in a positive way, through this ad, and ultimately attempting to reach a broader audience.
This image is a screenshot from a promotional email that I received from REI Co-op. I believe the choice to use two women, a man, and a woman of color as models was a very deliberate one. As a company REI seems to be making efforts to be more inclusive.
This is a screenshot from Nike’s homepage, on Tuesday, March 22. Happy Air Max Day everyone…I had no idea it was today! The left panel was an interesting video that showed people of all ages, genders and ethnicities, engaged in a wide variety of activities. For a company that has largely built its identity on urban streetwear, this seems like a mostly positive series of images.