THE REPRESENTATION OF ETHNIC MINORITY
MEN IN PRINT ADVERTISEMENTS:
A CONTENT ANALYSIS
Brian Tanner, McNair Scholar
Mentor: Dr. Tien-Tsung Lee
Edward R. Murrow School of Communication
Traditionally gender studies on advertising have focused on women. The present
study investigates how ethnic minority men are represented in advertisements in
male audience magazines. A content analysis approach was used to rate human
male figures, both real life and illustrated, in a sample of advertisements from
selected magazines in 1983 and 2003. Overall, Caucasian males were portrayed
more positively in advertisements. However, over time, representations improved
of ethnic minority men improved in both number and style.
Although past research on the images of women in advertising exists, Kolbe and Albanese
(1996) report that except for their study, few have investigated exclusively male portrayals in
magazine advertisements. Further, none have examined race as a factor. There is, then, a need to
investigate the portrayal of ethnic minority men (EMM) in advertisements. The present study is a
first attempt at conducting a content analysis to determine how often and how EMM are
represented in magazine advertising. EMM are defined in this study as males who are essentially
“non-White.” Specifically, I compare Caucasian/White males and non-White males in magazine
advertisements published in 1983 and again in 2003. The focus of the research is on the extent of
representation and manner in which minority men are portrayed in advertising images.
The United States (U.S.) Department of Commerce has reported that in the year 2000,
minorities made up 20 percent of the buying power in the U.S.
Further, it is clear that this
segment of the population is growing at a faster rate than that of the non-minority population (see
Mastro and Stern, 2003). No wonder, then, advertisers are aggressively tapping into the “minority
market.” It is of interest, then, to examine how EMM are portrayed in advertising in comparison
to White men both today and two decades ago.
Many people engage in social comparisons when observing images in the media (Frisby,
2004). If racial and ethnic minority youth see the under representation or negative portrayals of
EEM in the media, they might begin to feel disconnected from society (Stern, 1999). In addition,
because consumers learn from what they see in media (Mastro and Stern, 2003), an analysis of
how EMM are portrayed in advertisements is imperative.
I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Tien-Tsung Lee. You were a perfect mentor for what I wanted to
research. Thank you again for all your help. I would also like to thank Angela Taniguchi for being my
second coder. That was one of the most important parts of my study. Finally, I would like to thank the
McNair Achievement Program for giving me the opportunity to do undergraduate research. Thank you