Building on Jean Kilbourne: Race and Advertising in the U.S.

In addition to watching Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly 4 in class, watch the short video below to see more images of how advertising has sold us images of racial minorities in the U.S. Then take a look at “Racism in Advertising: 50 Shocking Examples.”


Let’s take a closer look at one of the contemporary images they refer to in the video above, the controversial Vogue cover featuring famous basketball star Lebron James and model Gisele Bundchen. Vogue claimed that the WWI American propaganda poster was not an inspiration for its cover; however, the strong intertextuality of the piece, as well as the historical context of both images, led to much criticism.

What U.S. history does the Vogue image below draw on?



As another example, let’s compare the following 1952 ad from clothing company Van Heusen to a more recent Nivea skin care ad campaign. What similarities do you notice in their messages, despite the historical gap?

A ad campaign pulled by Nivea (2010) after public backlash:

recivilize yourself

What differences do you notice between the ad featuring the African American man above, and this other version of the ad, featuring a white man:



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