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Deconstructing subtle racist imagery in television ads

Shabbir, Haseeb; Shabbir, Haseeb A.; Hyman, Michael R.; Reast, Jon; Palihawadana, Dayananda


Dr Haseeb Shabbir
Senior Lecturer - Marketing and Business Strategy

Dr Haseeb Shabbir
Senior Lecturer - Marketing and Business Strategy

Michael R. Hyman

Jon Reast

Dayananda Palihawadana


Although ads with subtle racist imagery can reinforce negative stereotypes, advertisers can eliminate this problem. After a brief overview of predominantly U.S.-based research on the racial mix of models/actors in ads, a theoretical framework for unmasking subtle racial bias is provided and dimensional qualitative research (DQR) is introduced as a method for identifying and rectifying such ad imagery. Results of a DQR-based study of 622 U.K. television ads with at least one Black actor indicate (1) subtle racially biased imagery now supersedes overt forms, and (2) the most popular ad appeals often mask negative stereotypes. Implications for public policy and advertisers, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.


Shabbir, H. A., Hyman, M. R., Reast, J., & Palihawadana, D. (2014). Deconstructing subtle racist imagery in television ads. Journal of business ethics, 123(3), 421-436. doi:10.1007/s10551-013-1798-8

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2013
Online Publication Date Aug 9, 2013
Publication Date Sep 1, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer Publishing Company
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 123
Issue 3
Pages 421-436
Keywords REF 2014 submission!!
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