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