‘Dinnertimin’ and ‘No Tipping’: How Advertisers Targeted Black Consumers in the 1970s

In the 1970s, something special began happening in American advertising. At the tail end of the civil-rights movement, the industry began to move away from its decades-long habit of portraying African Americans almost exclusively in positions of servitude or inferiority, as props in ads aimed at white audiences. By the 1970s, companies such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola began increasing the racial diversity depicted in their campaigns. In 1974, Jello became one of the first big companies to hire an African American spokesperson—Bill Cosby. The goal was twofold for corporations: to keep up with the times, and to broaden their potential consumer base.

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