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Stereotyping and Discrimination in Advertising Essay

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Updated: Jul 27th, 2020

The United States of America has created a major tool that supports the capitalist system. This tool is the advertising industry that plays an integral part in raising the standards in the way of living on a global scale. However, this paper will discuss the pattern in which advertising has become an unstoppable force of culture within modern society. It is described as being a reflection of social values within society as well as an enabler of establishing new beliefs or social norms. Furthermore, within the modern technology-driven world, the power of mass media and advertisement has exceeded the power of religion, education, and, unfortunately, the power family values have (Williams, Lee & Haugtvedt, 2014, p. 3).

The research has shown that visual advertising can sometimes single some cultural groups out. On the other hand, some minority groups are being exploited in advertising because of the cultural stereotypes that exist in society. For example, there are commercials aimed at advertising alcoholic beverages that specifically target the African-American population. Such commercials often depict a hip-hop singer that brings the liquor to a quiet ghetto community and starts a wild party there. Another highly stereotyped group in the advertisements is the Indian-Americans that usually speak with an exaggerated accent in the commercial. Advertisement makers usually believe that this brings a comedic flair to the commercial thus making it recognizable.

Thus, stereotyping in the sphere of advertising remains an unnoticed and unresolved issue. However, there should be solutions for dealing with it. The only group that does benefit from this type of advertisement is the advertisers themselves who get paid a lot when people buy the promoted item. Advertisers are those people that should take full responsibility for their actions and direct their efforts to promote diversity and equality for all (Sadiq, 2004, para. 7).

Cultural or racial discrimination can be eliminated with the use of the same medium that perpetuated it – advertising. A bright example is an ad produced by LICRA, an International league against racism and antisemitism, called “Babies” and awarded a Cresta Awards trophy for a successful combination of text and imagery. The ad shows three babies in their hospital bassinets, two of the babies are white-skinned and are wearing generic diapers. The third baby, on the other hand, looks like he or she is of Hispanic descent and is dressed in a maid uniform, holding a mop. The ad’s slogan is “Your skin color should not dictate your future” (McIntyre, 2015, para. 4). Such use of imagery in combination with a short but memorable message can greatly affect the target audience as well as enhance the importance of the issue in question.

The second method of overcoming discrimination involves introducing minority cultures into the process of making advertisements. Representatives of diverse communities will introduce a fresh attitude as well as new concepts that will reach the target audience as well as enhance the process with new ideas. Such a strategy will underline the importance of people of all genders, cultures, races, and religions working together towards achieving equality and battling with prejudice and stereotyping. If an ad is written to be funny on the basis of stereotyping, dominant groups should also become subjected to stereotyping and ridicule.

The third method is the establishment of anti-racism and anti-discrimination campaigns that will be advertised through the means of modern media. The examples of such campaigns are the 1999 UK Commission for Racial Equality, the Swiss S.O.S. Racisme, 2003 Red Cross of Finland as well as many others. The involvement of influential personalities like politicians, musicians, and actors into anti-discriminatory advertisements will also have beneficial results.

Real-Life Case of Discrimination

Because of the increased danger that comes from specific radical groups of the Muslim population, all Muslims are often being discriminated against, even if they seem to fully assimilate into the mainstream society. My mother’s friend who is a neighbor of a big Pakistani family told me an example of such discrimination. Their son went to college and tried to rent an apartment near the campus so that the commute would take no time. He is very devoted to his religion and culture and wears traditional clothing.

He had found an ad for a vacant apartment online and called the landlord to book a viewing. When he had shown up for his viewing, the landlord informed him that the apartment was just rented by a person that had come previously to him. The young man was disappointed and searched for new ads online. However, he had discovered that the “For Rent” sign still continued to show in the advertisement for the viewed apartment. It is discrimination to deny a person from renting an apartment because of their culture or religion. Thus, it was evident that the young Pakistani man was excluded by the apartment landlord due to his traditional appearance and was forced to look for another place to stay during the course of his year in college.


McIntyre, S. (2015). Visual Discrimination in Advertising: What You Can Do about It. Web.

Sadiq, S. (2004). Web.

Williams, J., Lee, W-N., & Haugtvedt, C. (2014). Diversity in Advertising: Broadening the Scope of Research Directions. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

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IvyPanda. "Stereotyping and Discrimination in Advertising." July 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stereotyping-and-discrimination-in-advertising/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Stereotyping and Discrimination in Advertising." July 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stereotyping-and-discrimination-in-advertising/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Stereotyping and Discrimination in Advertising'. 27 July.

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