As society has become more diverse and inclusive, so do the images portrayed in advertising. Using an historical research method, we gather data on political, legal, demographic, social, and cultural changes in American society, and changes in the content and messages of American advertising. We develop a framework to describe the process of how advertising and society interact. Our findings demonstrate that advertisers, in their efforts to reach their audiences, use images and language that are familiar and comfortable. Advertisers are also cautious not to alienate consumers and other stakeholders. We also suggest that marketers’ ethical obligation drives them to take a stakeholders perspective, particularly in advertising, resulting in messages that are more representative of society and at times attempt to influence society. Our study focuses on three areas of social interest: race (primarily African Americans), LGBTQ, and women’s roles as portrayed in advertising.
- African American history
- gender discrimination
- historical research in marcomarketing