Portrayals of Racial Diversity in American Prime-Time TV Commercials

Material Information

Portrayals of Racial Diversity in American Prime-Time TV Commercials
Ni, Bimei
University of Florida
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.Adv.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Journalism and Communications
Committee Chair:
Morton, Cynthia R.
Committee Members:
Cho, Chang-Hoan
Villegas, Jorge


Subjects / Keywords:
Advertising research ( jstor )
African Americans ( jstor )
Asian Americans ( jstor )
Hispanics ( jstor )
Minority groups ( jstor )
Native Americans ( jstor )
Racial diversity ( jstor )
Television commercials ( jstor )
Television programs ( jstor )
White people ( jstor )
diversity, racial, television


General Note:
My thesis focuses on prime-time TV commercials, noting the amount and quality of representation of people of color. A content analysis of 312 commercials in prime-time television reveals that while Caucasian continue to be the predominate models in terms of numbers and in types of role they play, the numerical representation of minorities has improved. Nearly half of ads sampled were indicated with cross-racial appearance. And stereotypical association between minorities and certain product category seems to be vague. However, I found that minorities are still more likely than Caucasian to have minor roles and background roles. Some problematic patterns were found in term of setting and cross-racial interaction.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Rights Management:
Copyright Ni, Bimei. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Embargo Date:


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text




2 2007 Bimei Ni


3 To my dear family


4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I wish to thank my grandfather for bestowing upon me the encouragement and assurance as I struggled with studying abroad while he was sick in bed. This thesis was produced while enduring a lot of pressure, yet he gave me the strength to continue even in my times of weakness. My sincere gratitude also extends to my beloved parents my father, Qingpei Ni; my mother, Langzhi, Lin for thei r persistent support and love Their unwavering faith and encouragement saw me through every step of the way. I profess the ultimate thank you to both of them for being my mentors a nd intellectual stimulants for as long as I can remember. They have been literally by my side with support and encouraging words convincing me again and again that I could succeed if I would just take one step at a time. My gratefulness extends to my advisor, Dr. Cynthia Morton, for her impeccable advice and guidance. Her approachableness and enthus iasm with a good sense of humor have greatly alleviated the pressure and har dness that one would have thought to accompany thesis writing. To the rest of my committee, Dr. Chang-Hoan Cho and Dr. Jorge Villegas, I am thankful for their patience in working with my schedule. Th eir support and critique ha ve been invaluable. Finally, I give my deepest thanks to all of those named here, and the many more I hold in my heart. I couldnt have done this without them.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. ...9 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................13 Cultivation Theory and Racism..............................................................................................13 Racial Representation and Role Portrayal..............................................................................15 Cross-Racial Interac tion and Relationship.............................................................................18 Races, Advertised Products and Setting.................................................................................20 Gender, Race and TV Commercials.......................................................................................21 3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS ...................................................................................................23 4 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................2 5 Inter-Coder Reliability........................................................................................................ ....25 Units of Analyses.............................................................................................................. ......26 Variables...................................................................................................................... ...........26 5 RESULTS...................................................................................................................... .........29 Relative Racial Visibility..................................................................................................... ...29 Racial Diversity............................................................................................................... .......30 Perceived Importance by Race...............................................................................................33 Cross-Racial Interaction....................................................................................................... ..35 Product Type by Minority Groups..........................................................................................36 Setting by Minority Groups....................................................................................................3 7 6 CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................................................. ..39 7 LIMITATIONS.................................................................................................................. .....43 APPENDIX A OPERATIONAL DEFINITI ONS OF KEY VARIABLES....................................................44 B CODEBOOK..................................................................................................................... .....47


6 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..53 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................56


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 5-1 Cross racial appearance.................................................................................................... ......30 5-2 Single group race.......................................................................................................... ..........31 5-3 Cross-racial appearance by networks.....................................................................................32 5-4 Cross-racial appearance by days............................................................................................ .33 5-5 Perceived importance of characters........................................................................................3 4 5-6 Perceived importance of characters by gender & race...........................................................34 5-7 Comparison of cross -racial interaction...................................................................................35 5-8 Product type by racial groups.............................................................................................. ...37 5-9 Primary setting by minority groups........................................................................................3 8


8 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Advertising THE PORTRAYALS OF RACIAL DIVERS ITY IN AMERICAN PRIME-TIME TV COMMERCIALS By Bimei Ni August, 2007 Chair: Cynthia R. Morton Major: Advertising My thesis focuses on prime-time TV commercials, noting the amount and quality of representation of people of color. A content analysis of 312 comm ercials in prime-time television reveals that while Caucasian continue to be the predominate models in terms of numbers and in types of role they play, the numerical represen tation of minorities has im proved. Nearly half of ads sampled were indicated with cross-racial ap pearance. And stereotypical association between minorities and certain product category seems to be vague. However, I found that minorities are still more likely than Caucasia n to have minor roles and back ground roles. Some problematic patterns were found in term of se tting and cross-racial interaction.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The United States is a very diverse country racially. According to the 2000 census, the United States has 31 ethnic groups with at l east one million members each and numerous other ethnicities represented in smaller numbers. Hi spanics are the largest minority group in the country, comprising 12.5% of the population in 2000, up from 9% in 1990. About 12.3% of the American people are Black, mainly African Amer ican. A third significant minority is the Asian American population (4.2%). Indigenous peoples of the Americas, such as American Indians and Inuit, make up about .9% of the population. Intermarriage is also changing the face of the United States and the means by which race is measured. Clean divisions between groups can no l onger to fit people into neat, distinct racial and ethnic categories (Caucasian, African Ameri can, Hispanic, Asian or Native American). According to a study done by veteran demograp her Barry Edmonston, by 2050, 21% of the U.S. population will be of mixed racial or ethnic an cestry, up from an estimate of 7% today. And among third-generation Hispanic and Asian Americ ans, exogamy (defined as marriage outside one's ethnic group or tribe) will be at least 50% (as cited in Stanfield, 1997). While exogamy remains much less prevalent among African Americans, it has incr eased significantly from about 1.5% in the 1960s to as much as 10% in 1997 (S tanfield, 1997). These factors underscore the nation's increasing ethnic complexity. The significance these shifts in racial and ethnic composition are also important when considering the economic impact. A 2002 report on minority buying power released by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business projected spending power of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans will continue growing at a faster rate than that of white households at least through 2010 due to two key


10 factors. First, projected birt h and immigration rates among et hnic and racial minorities are expected to exceed the nationa l average compared to Caucasians. Second, employment opportunities for these groups are projected to improve. According to the report, by 2010, the combined buying power of African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans will exceed $1.7 trillion, an almost 375% growth compared with the 1990 level of $454 billion. To be specifi c, Asian American buying power is estimated at $397 billion for 2005, with a 240.4% increase sin ce 1990. It's expected to reach $579 billion nationwide by 2010; Hispanic buying power in California alone for 2005 is an estimated $202.6 billion. On its own, California's Hispanic buying power exceeds the total buying power (all groups) of 36 of the 50 states; Native Amer ican buying power, estimated at $51.1 billion nationwide for 2005. Native American buying power in West Virginia grew fastest, with a 388.6% increase since 1990 (as cited in Kvi cala, 2005). And the buying power of AfricanAmerican rose 127% in 14 years, from $318 billion in 1990 to $723 billion in 2003. By 2009, it is expected to reach $965 billion according to the University of Georgias Selig Center for Economic Growth. "The fast-paced growth of minority buying pow er demonstrates the increasing economic clout of minority consumers," said Jeff Humphreys, Selig Center di rector and the report's author. "One implication is that business-to-consumer companies do not necessarily have to look overseas to find booming markets, as there ar e great opportunities right here in America's multicultural economy" (as cited in Kvicala, 2005). The pace of minority buying power is significant because it offers enormous marketi ng opportunities for businesses and investors. For advertisers and marketers, determ ining how to reach these markets and to effectively incorporate them into their brand marketing programs becomes a compulsory course of action.


11 Advertising and marketing are key aspects of what constitutes media today in the United States and in the rest of the world. Entman a nd Rojecki (2000) contend th ey are "indicators of the culture's racial heartbeat" (p.162). In the United States, over the last 120 years, the role of a dvertising has changed, particularly as it relates to portrayals of vari ous ethnic and racial minority communities. Before the 1980s, most television advertising was mas s-marketed to a broadly diverse audience through a relatively small number of media outle ts (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). Since then, advertiser and media firms have emphasized divisions between subpopul ations distinguishing them by social class differences, lifestyle differe nces, and ethnic and cultural differences to maximize the communication and marketing effects (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). Carey (1988) argued that media are directed not toward th e extension of messages in space, but toward the maintenance of society in tim e; not the act of imparting information but the representation of shared beliefs. As such media fulfill a ritual role (Carey, 1988) in communication. Television plays an increasingly important role in the construction of reality and the maintenance of social hier archy (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). Gerbners cultivation theory presents televisi on as not a window on or reflection of the world, but a world in itself (McQuail & Winda hl, 1993, p. 100). He argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst me mbers of a culture, thus bindi ng it together (as cited in Chandler, 1995). Thus, if audiences are repeated ly exposed to certain portrayals of an ethnic group, they may develop corresponding beliefs about the group, either correct or distorted (Bang & Reece, 2003). Furthermore, Bang and Reece ( 2003) contend advertising that fails to adequately reflect reality in te rms of ethnic representation and its growing integration into the


12 mainstream culture may be perceived to be unf air, out of touch, outdated, or not relevant by consumers from all ethnic backgrounds. In this sense, television commercials not only promote consumptions, but also shape images and "susta in group boundaries that come to be taken for granted" (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). Apart from enormous commercial benefit by r eaching these minority groups with fast-paced growth of spending power, when the potential imp act of exposure to te levision commercials is considered from the perspective cultivation th eory, the quality of the ads assumes increasing social significance. With the close corres pondence between commercial imagery and program content, many researchers make the assumption that television advertising is representative of the stereotypes promoted by the medium (Coltr ane & Messineo, 2000). Thes e ideas suggest that is important to analyze how advertisers present racial diversity in television commercial advertising. My study will empirically examine the portray al of race and interracial relationships available in prime time TV commercials. Throu gh a systematic content analysis, my study will update the current status of r acial-diversity portrayal on prim e time TV commercial in United States. In doing so, the authors hope to report the progress of dive rsity portrayals on prime time television, as well as to adva nce recommendations for future advertising practice. The implications of these findings will be examined from the perspective of cultivation theory and furthermore provide insights into their possible impact on audiences self perception also attitude toward minorities.


13 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Cultivation Theory & Racism Cultivation theory states that television acts as a socializing agent that creates and cultivates viewers attitudes more consistent with a media-conjured version of reality than with what actual reality is (Chandler, 1995). It em phasizes the effects of television viewing on the attitudes rather than on the behavior of viewer s. Cultivation theory study also focuses on heavy viewers. It asserts that heavy viewers' attitudes are cultivat ed primarily by what they watch on television. In other words, heavy watching of te levision cultivates attitudes which are more consistent with the world of television programs than with the ever yday world. Primarily, cultivation theory focused on the topic of violence. It contends that "w atching television may tend to induce a general mindset about violence in the world, quite apart from any effects it might have in inducing violent behaviors" (Chandler, 1995). Cultivation theorists are best known for their study of the relationship between television programming and viewer effects, with a particular focus on the topic of violence. However, some studies have considered cultivation theory in the context of other mass media, examining such topics as ethnic groups, gender roles, age gr oups, and political attitudes. A study by Lubbers, Scheepers and Vergeer (2000) appl ied cultivation theory to news paper messages attitudes toward ethnic minorities. Going beyond enjoyment cons iderations and exploring the social consequences of music usage, Aust, Gibson, Ho ffman, Love, Ordman, Pope, Seigler, & Zillmann (1995) found that radical political rap (music video) appeared to motivate white adolescents to support efforts toward racial harmony and to oppose white-supremacy agendas. Aust et al. (1995) argued that the white st udents sampled viewed oppression as more prevalent in society than they had thought before after they were repeatedly exposed to music stressing the


14 oppression of African-American people. The findi ng was in accordance with cultivation theorys premise that, for better or for worse, the mass media influences users perception of reality, especially those of heavy media users. Billings and Eastman (2003) argued that cultivat ion theory underscore the potential impact of total media immersion a phenomenon that ha ppens with large segments of the American population during the Olympic teleca sts. The researchers found that during the Olympic telecasts four-fifths of all athletes me ntioned and the top 20 most mentioned names were White. What makes this significant is that the potential im pact of embedded biases about race goes beyond sports. Wenner (1989) contends th at "utilizing inappropriate ster eotypes can have a pernicious impact on ethnic-and gender-related social relations" (as cited in Billings & Eastman, 2003). Researchers (e.g. Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Si gnorielli,1982; Gerbner, Gross, Signorielli, & Morgan, 1982; Gross, 1984; Matabane,1988) cont end that "stable and repetitive messages about race can cultivate attit udes and perceptions in audien ce members that mirror these messages" (as cited in Bang & Reece, 2003), and th at interpersonal contact between members of different racial groups, whether in actual reality or media-c onjured reality, is a powerful facilitator in attitude and so cial relations (Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980). Children are more susceptible to such cultivation effects than a dults (Bang & Reece, 2003). Specifically, television has stronger impact on children's expectations and understanding of social roles for different racial minorities. For instance, if a child repeatedly sees a model of his or her own ethnic group playing a minor role or major role, it can lead to somewhat unrealistic self-perceptions. Such cultivation effects will be more salient in the case of children w ith few opportunities to interact with people from diverse ethni c backgrounds (Li-Vollmer, 2002).


15 In the context of romantic and martial relati onships, cultivation theory suggests that in portraying idealized images of marriage, the me dia may be cultivating unrealistic beliefs about what romantic and martial relationships should be Signorielli (1991) argued that television may be the single most common and pervasive source of conceptions and acti on related to marriage and intimate personal relationships for large segments of the population (p.121). Segrin and Nabi (2002) found that there is a relationship between genrespecific television viewing (e.g. romantic programming) and idealiz ed expectations of marriage a nd intentions to marry. They contend that the media do play a role in "dev eloping and reinforcing beliefs about marriage." Viewing racism as one of cultivations indicator s (Morgan, 1986), we could infer that exposure to repeated inter-racial roma nce portrayals or messages on television may influence viewers' attitudes and expectation about in ter-racial relationships in accor dance with cultivation theory. Racial Representation and Role Portrayal In terms of televised portrayals of racial mi norities, a body of literat ure reviewed primarily focused on African Americans. As summari zed by Larson (2002), it shows that the black population on television had a st able increase in both TV programming and TV commercials over time. During the fall 1977 season, th e black population comprised 10% of TV programming. Similarly in 1978, black appearan ce time took up 8.5% in TV commercials and 8.3% in TV programming. In 1989, black appearance time showed a stable increasing percent in both TV commercials (9.1%) and programming (17%). To be specific, in prime time television, the black population also shows an increasing trend from the 1970s to 1990s. According to Greenberg and Brands summary (a s cited in Mastro & Greenberg, 2000), in terms of th eir representation in prime tim e television in 1971, 6% of the prime time characters were African Americans, and African Americans made up of 8% and 11%


16 of prime time characters in 1980 and 1993, resp ectively. A more recent content analysis of minority portrayals in 1996 prime-time advertis ing done by Taylor and Stern (1997) indicated that Blacks were portrayed in 31.8% of all ads with models. From the bulk of literature review, we can easily see that African Americans representation on U.S. television shows an evolution (M astro & Greenberg, 2000) across time frames. However, other racial minorities representati ons in U.S. TV remain relatively uncommon (Mastro & Greenberg, 2000). Henderson and Baldastys (2003) analysis of prime-time television advertising during the spring 1999 s eason led them to conclude th at African Americans were the only minority routinely represented in prim e-time commercials. Representations of other minority groups were extremely rare (about 1%). According to a content analysis conducted by Mastro and Greenberg (2000) on prime-time television during the 1996-1997 tele vision season,, African American s composed of 16% of the main and minor roles in prime time, although th eir representation in the U.S. population was proportionately less (12% of the census). Hispan ics composed only 3% of television portrayals on prime time, though they composed of 11% of the census. The study also found that Asian Americans represented 1% of the TV population relative to their pr oportion in the U.S. population (4% of the census), and Native Americans representation was nil. In addition to concern about under-representati on, there has been concern about the role portrayals. While African Americans are generally represented in a mor e diverse, equitable manner, and at a rate commensurate to the populati on, other racial minorities (Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans) still remain underrepresented and, at times, negatively depicted (Mastro & Stern, 2003).


17 Li-Vollmer (2002) found that commercials te nded to put Whites on priority by featuring them in different types of commercial and role portrayals. Whites were the only characters in high-status roles and were signifi cantly more likely to be spoke speople, initiators of action, and problem solvers relative to racial minorities. The televised portrayals of r acial minorities show an incr easing trend, however subtle racial biases still pe rvade in the portrayals of these groups (Li-Vollmer, 2002). Entman and Rojecki (2000) noted, although African American s achieved a niche in the representation in television advertisements, the sheer frequency increase can not compensate for substantial limitations that exist in the nature and range of African American images in ads. According to Coltrane and Messineo (2000) Commercial images can contribute to the perpetuation of subtle prejudice against African Americans by exagge rating cultural differences and denying positive emotion. Other studies have concluded th at people of color are genera lly portrayed stereotypically (Baptista-Fernandez & Greenberg, 1980). One st udy of prime-time television ads showed African Americans were featured as dominant characters in only 17% of prime-time ads and the majority of advertisements feat ured African Americans in subordi nate or minor roles (Bristor, Lee, & Hunt, 1995). In addition, African Americans were stereotypically portrayed in roles as athletes (Li-Vollmer, 2002). A separate content analysis conducted by Ta ylor and Stern (1997) on minority portrayals in 1996 prim e-time advertising indicated that Blacks, Asian Americans, and Hispanics were much more frequently represen ted than in the past (Blacks: 31.8% of all ads with models; Asians: 8.4%; and Hispanics: 8.5%). However, the authors noted that minorities were more likely to be depicted in minor role s relative to Caucasians and stereotyped by being associated with certain product types (e.g., Asian Americans associated with technology-oriented


18 products). Studies also indicated that the majority of African Americans and Asians depicted typically didnt give orders; Whites were more likely to give orders (Mastro & Stern, 2003). In summary, although the number of African American characters in prime-time commercials has equaled or even surpassed thei r real-world representation, the appearance of other racial minority characters also show s a climbing trend in prime time television commercials. However, the racial biases pervade the representation image and roles in ads for all racial minorities. Cross-Racial Interaction and Relationship Interpersonal contact between members of diffe rent racial groups is a powerful facilitator of change in attitudes and social relations (Weigel, Loomis & So ja, 1980). Yet, questions about the quality of cross-racial relations portrayed on television have rarely been raised in past research (Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980). What have been consistent in the literature are findi ngs on the degree of racial integration in advertisement (Green, 1999). As summarized in Green (1999), many researchers suggest that black models play a minor role when featured with whites models in racially integrated settings (e.g., Bristor, Lee, & Hunt 1995; Humphrey & Schuman 1984; Schilinger & Plummer 1972; Wilkes and Valencia 1989). These researchers found that television ads that featured black models were overwhelmingly integrated, and th at Blacks played either minor or background roles in the majority of the ad s analyzed. Wilkes and Valencia (1989) noted that Blacks were more likely to than not to app ear in racially integrated ads, while the proportion of African Americans in TV commercials showed an upward trend. Bristor, Lee and Hunt (1995) found that only 17% of the prime-time network television ad s analyzed featured African-Americans as


19 dominant characters, while the majority of adve rtisements featured African-Americans in minor roles. In the study by Weigel, Loomis and Soja (1980) cross-racial relationships on prime time television were found to be infrequent and relatively formalized when they do occur. Television's message appears to be that Blacks and Whites can work together, but do not engage in the same degree of volunt ary, individuated, and romantic re lationships. Weigel, Kim, and Frost (1995) compared two similar samples of television content drawn, respectively, from 1978 and 1989. The results of this comparison indicated th at the appearance time of black characters on the screen more than doubled in the 1989 sample compared to 1978. In addition, the frequency of cross-racial in teractions more than triple d in the 1989 sample. However, relationships between Blacks and Whites on television continued to be portrayed as cooperative but emotionally detached. Though TV commercials have been credited with contributing to widespread social perceptions [attained] through its framing of fantasy and romantic fulfillment (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000), even less is known about the nature of the interaction a nd activities of White characters and characters of co lor in the mass media (Larson, 2002) It follows then that the study of interracial and cross-cu ltural unions also are important aspects in understanding the nature of race relationships (Aldridge, 1978). La rson (2002) examined interr acial relationships in childrens' television commercial, he found that not only did most of these commercials portray diversity in various settings, but they also portrayed interracial communication and interactions. However, in commercials featuring White and AHANA (African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American) children together, more than 60% of the interactions were cooperative.


20 Race, Advertised Products & Setting Product association is important while examini ng the quality of racial portrayals, as it provides implicit cues regarding the culture worth of the indivi duals associated with them (Mastro & Stern, 2003). According to a study by Henderson and Baldasty (2003), White characters typically were featured dominantly in commercials for expensiv e items and products associated with the home. On the other hand, racial minority groups were cl osely tied to low-cost low-nutrition products (such as fast food and soft drinks, candy, and gum). Mastro and Sterns (2003) cont ent found that black characters are typically featured in commercials for financial services or food. As ians are most commonly featured in ads for technology. Hispanics most frequently appeared in commercials for soap or deodorant. And, White characters were seen most in ads fo r technology and food. However, Native Americans were rarely shown. Bang and Reeces (2003) analysis of children in advertising showed that white children dominated ads, while children of color were background characters. More over, stereotyping of certain minorities portrayed in childrens te levision advertising is found in the study. Some current commercials stereotypically portray minor ities with a clear association with certain product categories. The researchers found that Black s were still more likely to be featured in food commercials than any other ethnic group, while at the same time bei ng the least likely to appear in toy commercials. The setting in which characters were located in commercials also was found to vary significantly by race. Mastro and Stern (2003) found that while both Black and Hispanic


21 characters were most often located outdoors, As ians were most often found at work and White were most often at home. Gender, Race & TV Commercials As Gerbners cultivation theory presented, TV is not a window on or reflection of the world, but a world in itself (McQuail & Winda hl, 1993, p. 100). Many studies reveal that media messages do not reflect what the real world is: Far more people of color, disabled people, nonheterosexuals, seniors and poor people exist in th e real world than we see on TV or in the movies. Media portrayals of wo men often leave much to be desired, especially women in advertising. There has been more research on gender imag ery in television progr amming and advertising that reflects the mediums preoccupation with sex and female beauty than research on race. In general, women characters have been more likely to be shown in the home, with men more likely to be shown outside or in occupational roles (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). They also suggest that television commercials from the 1990s tend to portray White men as powerful, white women as sex objects, African American men as aggressive, and African American women as inconsequential. In conclusion, the review of previous studies about televised racial portrayals indicates both progress and stagnation for ra cial and ethnic minority representations. While Blacks are generally portrayed in a more diverse manner, and at a rate equal, or even surpassed to their proportion in the population, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans remain underrepresented and, at times, negatively depicte d. Prime-time television advertising reflects some racial diversity, but it is qui te limited in nature. On average, studies suggest that racial and ethnic minorities appear most regularly in minor or background roles and group settings. As to


22 the interaction among different racial groups portr ayed on television, people of color tend to be less dominant, and the relationship portrayed in TV commercials betwee n Whites and people of color tends to be formalized and emotionally deta ched. Thus, the mere increase in the number of one racial minority group is insufficient to tr uly improve the quality of the representations presented.


23 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS Demographic trends of minority groups constantly change as a result of factors such as economics, immigration, and health epidem ics. From 2003 to 2007, either the minority population increased or their income level growth changed annually. Yet, the most recent studies about race representation through TV commerci als can be only traced to 2003 (e.g., Henderson & Baldasty 2003; Mastro & Stern 2003; Bang & Reece 2003). Moreover, the samples analyzed were even older. Existing studies and their conclusions about r ace representation on television in U.S. were outdated, compared with fast econom ic, social development and constantly-changing demographics in todays mass-mediated society. It is both marketers and academic researchers job to stay on top of these trends. The intent of this study is to update the current status of racialdiversity portrayal on prime ti me TV commercials in U.S. by analyzing the 2007 samples. Previous quantitative studies of race representation in TV co mmercials have tended to focus primarily on the depictions of African Americans and Whites, or have frequently combined all racial minorities into one category, due to the low visibility of some racial minorities in advertising (Li-Vollmer, 2002). However, my study a ttempts to avoid a Black and White polarity of race representation by making a concerted effort to draw out separate analyses of all major U.S. racial groups (including African American, Whites, Hispanic, Asian, Native American) to the extent possible. By analyzing not only the fr equency in which charac ters of racial groups appear, but, more importantly, th e association of race, gender and products advertised, as well as the nature in which they are depicted, this st udy proposes to update the current body of research on diversity portrayals in televi sion advertising. Through systema tic content analysis, the study will attempt to assess the degree of cross-racial interactions in terms of interdependence, individuation, relative st atus, and intimate relationship portrayals (Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980)


24 on television. My study will also investigate the settings in which race groups are portrayed in television commercials. Specifically, my study addresses the following research questions: RQ1: What is the relative visi bility assigned to different ra cial groups in American primetime TV commercials? RQ2: What roles are assigned to different racial groups in American prime-time TV commercials? RQ3: What is the visibility of cross-racial appearance in prime-time American TV commercials? RQ4: How intimate and multifaceted are cross-ra cial relationships depicted in American prime-time TV commercials? RQ5: What are the differences in the types of products featured in American prime-time TV commercials that depict certain raci al group or diverse races together? RQ6: What are the differences in settings in which commercials loca te certain different racial group or diverse races together? RQ7: Are there any associations between gender and race, perceived importance? RQ8: Are there any associations between the visibility of cross-racial appearances and broadcasting networks or days?


25 CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY Content analysis was used as the methodology for this study. Both frequency analysis & ratings of the qualitative aspect s of cross-racial interaction (W eigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980) were conducted. A one week sample of TV commercials from American major networks CBS, Fox during prime time television programs (8-11 p.m. ET) was constructed to represent broadcast TV commercials for 2007. CBS can trace its origins to the creation, on January 27, 1927. It is one of the pioneer broadcasting networks in United States, from its earliest days CBS established a reputation for quality. Prior to th e fracturing of the market under cable television, CBS's television network was one of three which domin ated broadcasting in the United States (the others were ABC and NBC). While, the groundwork for the launch of the Fox network began in March 1985 with News Corporation's $250 million pur chase of 50% of TCF Holdings, the parent company of the 20th Century Fox movie studio. And Fox ha s grown from an upstart "netlet" to the highest-rated broadcast network among young adu lts. CBS as pioneer and Fox as upstart in US broadcasting field should provide an interesting perspective into this study. Inter-Coder Reliability One graduate student and one underg raduate student, both in the major of advertising, served as coder. They were extensively trained in commercial outside the actual sample. Both of them coded all sample ads independently, whic h means each individual ad was coded by both coders. During the week February 18th through February 25th, during network prime time broadcasting programming, a total of 312 TV commercial were aired. And the number of agreements in units of indivi dual ad between coders was 251. The number of disagreement in units of individual ads between c oders was 61. Based on Holstis (1969) formula, the inter-coder


26 reliability for this study was 80.4%. In terms of i ndividual variables, inter-coder reliability for the number of characters & racial diversity wa s 88.2%, for primary type of product or service was 88.6%, for primary settings was 87.9%, for pe rceived importance of characters was 80.6%, 81.5%, 79.8% (for major role minor role and background role respectively), for the interdependence ratings was 86.4%, 88.2% respectivel y (for two rating scal es), for individuation ratings was 80.4.5%, 87.1% respectively (for two rating scales), for romance rating was 90.5%. Units of Analyses With the expecta tion to project our study results to the national level, all national commercials were coded including repeated ad s (Craig, 1992). The reason why repeated ads were coded each time they ran is that every exposure to a commercial is an impression (Larson, 2002). Local commercials, political adve rtisements, trailers for television shows, movies, and sport events were excluded (Bar tsch, Burnetts, Diller, & Rankin-Williams, 2000). As well animations and graphic represen tations were not included as well. Variables Race was determined primarily by visual signifier s, such as skin color, hair color, and costuming associated with particular ethnic gr oup and by the presence of an accented speaking voice (Li-Vollmer, 2002). Characters could be c oded as White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, undetermined. The total number of characters was coded in th e ad. For this item, the scale had a maximum of 9, which was used for nine or more peopl e (Bang & Reece, 2003). This rule was used to prevent skewing of data from commercials that had crowd sc enes (Wilkes & Valencia 1989); moreover, with crowd scenes, it was impossible to count the actual number of people in the ad. Commercials with more than nine characters were difficult for th e coder to accurately count the


27 number and race of characters. Therefore, thos e commercials were assessed for the presence of White and AHANA, but the precise number of charac ters of each race was not noted. In this way commercials that do have racial diversity. Coders indicated the presence of Whites, African American, Hispanic, and Asian-American characters in each commercial. And number of TV commercials with presence or lack of crossracial appearance will be coded. To be detail, if two or more people appeared in the ad, coders classified them as either a single or mixed ethni c group; if a single race wa s represented in the ad (regard less of the numbe r of people), coders indicated from which ethnic group the character(s) came (Bang & Reece, 2003). More importantly, the perceived importance of this individual and his /her relationship to other characters (maj or role, minor role, background role) in the commercials will be rated (Bang & Reece, 2003). As well the gender for character(s) with major role, minor role, background role was coded as ma les and females if applicable. Type of product or service advertised was code d. The advertising product categor ies coded were automobiles, domestic necessity items (e.g., to ilet paper, soap, toothpaste, hous ehold cleaners), fast food, nonfast food, restaurants & cafes, el ectronic & technol ogical products (computers, palm pilots, etc.), apparels & accessories, candy and gum, soft dri nks, cosmetics, banking & financial services, beer and wine, public service a nnouncements, and athletic shoes & equipments, retail (such as grocery retail, drug store& pharmacies), and ot hers (Baldasty & Hende rson, 2003). Advertised products or service users and adve rtising message receivers were coded as female, male, children under 12 years old, and general audience. Primary setting was also coded as the primar y location where the characters were found (including work, home, other indoors, outdoors, more than one setting, and non-descript). Gender variable was measured to assess whom produc t category is directed to as target market


28 and whom advertising message is targeting to. A nd this variable was coded as females, males, and general. For the commercials with more than one single ra cial group, the coders al so need to indicate whether inter-racial interaction happen in cas e of some commercials featuring different spokesmen from different ethnic background for th e same product without any interaction. More importantly, the coders need to rate the degree of cross-racial relations hip when cross-racial interaction do happen in term of interdepende nce, individuation, and romance rating scales which focused on theoretically relevant dimensi ons derived from past race relations research (Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980). The degree of interdependence characterizing an interaction will be assessed by rating (a) the extent to which the participants held common versus independent goals and (b) the extent to which the participants were engaged in a c ooperative versus a competitive encounter. Each interaction was rated according to a 5-point response format with higher scores indicating greater interdependence. Other rating scales are devi sed in an attempt to capture the degree of individuation, relative status characterizing the interac tion, in addition, when cross-sex interaction occurred, the coders will rate the degree of ro mance involved (adjusted from Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980).


29 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS During the week February 18th through February 25th, during network prime time broadcasting programming, a total of 312 TV commercials were aired. Across the 312 commercials coded in this sample, ads with less than 9 human characters were 212 took up 70.2% of all ads sample, ads with an indistingui shable number of characters were 100, took up 29.8% of all ads sample. Relative Racial Visibility Analyzed in unit of TV commercials, we found that 63.3% of all ads sample could be observed with Caucasians, 18.3% with African American characters, 3.4% with Asian Americans, 5.1% with Hispanics, and .2% with Native American charact er, while 3.0% with characters of undetermined race. In terms of the number of ads in which they are represented, using the proportionality criterion of segment representation in the U.S. population, black characters were found to be overr epresented in the sample rela tive to other minority groups, which were somewhat underrepresented, particularly for Hispanics. Proportionality was also calculated using the nu mber of models rather than the number of ads. Based on the frequency distributions fo r each ethnic group, there were 571 models with identifiable race out of 589 human characters in the sample commercials. The majority of these characters was Caucasian (n=430, 75.4%), fo llowed by African American (n=89, 15.6%), Hispanic (n= 21, 3.7%), Asian American (n=12, 2.2%), and Native Americans were nearly nil (n=1, .17%). Caucasians and African American s were overrepresented, whereas Asians and Hispanics were underrepresented, especially Hi spanics, and Native Americans were rarely shown in prime time TV commercials. However, there were no significan t differences between


30 the observed distributions and thos e that might be expected if th e U.S. Census proportions were applied to the total (Chi -square=6.8622, df=4, p=.20). Racial Diversity Racial diversity is clearly visible in prim e-time advertising. As table 5-1 shows, among ads with nine countable huma n characters or less (n=212, 70.2%), 73.5% were observed with only one racial group, and 26.5% we re observed with more than two racial groups. Among ads with an indistinguishable number defined as a crowd that had 10 or more human characters (n=100, 29.8%), there were 81.7% of ads were id entified with cross-racial appearance, 7.5% without cross-racial appearance, and 10.8% can't be determined whether racial diversity was present or not. To sum up, among all ads sampled, ads with more than two racial groups took up 44.2%, and 55.8% were observed without cross-racial appearance or can't be determined whether cross-racial appearance was present or not. Table 5-1. Cross racial appearance Ads with countable human characters (n=212, 70.2%) Ads with uncountable human characters (n=100, 29.8%) Non-cross-racial appearance 73.5% 18.3% Caucasians only 63.3% N/A African Americans only 7.0% N/A Asian Americans only .9% N/A Hispanics only 2.5% N/A Native Americans only 0 N/A Cross-racial appearance 26.5% 81.7% Several other trends are important to note. First, African Amer icans were the only minority routinely represented in prime-time co mmercials. Appearances of other minority groups (Asian Americans, 3.4%; Hispanics, 5.1%; Nati ve American, .2%) were still underrepresented compared with their actual popul ation in U.S. (Asian American, 4.3, Hispanic, 14.50%; Native American, .9%). However, these findings show a noticeable increase in representation of


31 minority groups compared with previous studies in racial visibility. Henderson and Baldasty (2003) found that minority groups (Asian America n, Hispanic, Native American) were extremely rare (about 1%). While 44.6% (n=139) of all advertisements an alyzed showed only white people, ads that included minorities seldom reflected such racial segregation.; usually Whites were included as part of the cast. Only in rare instances did people of color make up the entire cast of an advertisement. Cross-racial appearances also oc curred at a much higher percentage in ads with uncountable human characters (81.7%) than in ads with countable human characters (26.5%). So when minority groups appeared, they tended to be in a crowd of models, meaning that the presence of minorities as part of the larger group could be seen as less significant. Despite the growing desire fo r diversity, members in an individual ethnic group tend to interact among themselves (Allen, 1998). Of all ads included in the study, more than a half of the ads (55.8%) showed single ethnic groups (or cant be determined with raci al diversity), featuring Caucasians predominantly. As table 5-2 shows, 44.4% of all ads included in the sample showed only Caucasians. African Americans appeared as a single group in 5.0% percent of all ads, followed by Hispanics in 1.8% of all ads, Asia n American in .6% of all ads, while Native Americans never appeared as a single group in prime time TV commercials. Table 5-2. Single group race* n % Caucasians only 123 44.4% African Americans only 14 5.0% Asian Americans only 2 .6% Hispanics only 5 1.8% Native American 0 0 *When ads shows only one ethnic group (N=144).


32 The difference in race representation across ads by broadcast network was also noticeable. Table 5-3 shows the percentages for different networks in which cross-racial and non-cross-racial appearances were observed. A statistically signi ficant difference was found in the appearance of racial divers ity in different network (Chi -square=4.42, df=1, p<.05). The FOX network had more commercials wi th cross-racial appearances (48.0%) compared to CBS where more than half of the ads (60.4 %) were without cross-racial appe arances. This could suggest that the FOX networks programming attracts a viewer ba se that is representa tive of greater crossracial and cross-ethnic diversity relative to it s CBS counterpart. Understanding this fact, the advertisers seeking to appeal to these audiences, tailor their messages to a ppeal to a more diverse audience. Table 5-3. Cross-racial appearance by networks CBS % FOX % Non-cross-racial appearance n=161 60.4 52.0 Cross-racial appearance n=151 39.6 48.0 Total 100 100 Chi-square=4.42 (df=1, p<.05) Although a statistically significant difference was not found in the appearance of racial diversity by different days of a week (Chi-square=6.03, df=6, n.s .), as table 5-4 shows, the percentages for different days of a week in wh ich cross-racial and non-cr oss-racial appearances were observed. Non-cross-racial appearance s were mostly commonly observed on Tuesday (21.3%) compared with other da y, whereas cross-racial appear ances were featured most on Saturday (23.6%).


33 Table 5-4. Cross-raci al appearance by days Non-cross-racial appearance (n=161, 55.8% of all ads) Cross-racial appearance (n=151, 44.2% of all ads) Saturday (Feb. 18th) 18.1% 23.6% Monday (Feb. 19th) 16.7% 15.9% Tuesday (Feb. 20th) 21.3% 18.1% Thursday (Feb. 21st) 13.8% 13.8% Friday (Feb. 22nd) 8.6% 11.6% Saturday (Feb. 23rd) 10.6% 8.3% Sunday (Feb. 24th) 10.9% 8.7% Total 100% 100% Chi-square=6.03 (df=6, n.s.) Perceived Importance by Race Regardless of numbers, a more critical issu e may be whether different ethnic groups exhibit different levels of pe rceived importance when they a ppear in TV commercials. Although African Americans are well represen ted in television ads, do they tend to appear in more major roles, minor roles, or background roles? Is gender an issue in race portrayals? In this analysis, because the cases of TV commerc ial featured with Native American were extremely rare, this group was excluded from analysis. The results showed that Caucasians were found to be featured in major roles more frequently than any other ethnic group (C hi-square = 38.56, df=6, p<0.001.). As table 5 shows 84.2% of the ads showing any Caucasian charac ters showed them in major roles, while comparable figures for African American and Asian American characters were 56.2% and 50.05 respectively. Hispanic models were least likely to be featured in major role (48% of the ads showing Hispanics). Conversely, proportions fo r minor and background roles demonstrate higher minority representations. When Hispanic models a ppeared in the ads, 48% of the time they were shown in minor roles, whereas the proportion of Caucasian models set in minor roles were lowest 11.3%, followed by African Americans at 36.8%, and Asian Americans at 44.4%.


34 Thus in term of perceived importance, mi norities were shown with less importance than Caucasian in general, and Hispanic characters we re least likely to be shown in major roles but most likely to be shown in minor or background roles. Table 5-5. Perceived im portance of characters Caucasian African AmericanAsian AmericanHispanic Major role 84.2% 56.2% 50.0% 48.0% Minor role 11.3 36.8 44.4 48.0 Background role 4.5 7.0 5.6 4.0 Total 100 100 100 100 Chi-square = 38.56 (df=6, p<.0001) Although there were not statisti cally significant differences in perceived importance of characters by gender & race, as table 5-6 shows, male models are more likely to feature with major role across the ethnic groups, except in the case of Hispanic. In commercials that featured with Caucasians or African Americans, they assi gned the almost same percentage of minor role to male and female, whereas in commercial w ith Hispanics, females are more likely assigned with minor role than males. Table 5-6. Perceived importan ce of characters by gender & race 1)Chi-square=.48 (df=2, n.s.); 2)Chi-square=1.28 (df=2, n.s.); 3)Chi-square=1.75 (df=2, n.s. ) 4)Chi-square=1.73 (df=2, n.s.) Male % Female % p Major role 10.6 9.0 Minor role 5.3 5.3 Caucasian Background role 1.8 1.9 n.s 1 Major role 5.4 3.7 Minor role 4.8 4.8 African American Background role .8 .5 n.s 2 Major role 1.3 .6 Minor role 1.3 1.0 Asian American Background role 0 .2 n.s 3 Major role 1.0 1.4 Minor role .6 1.3 Hispanic Background role .2 0 n.s 4


35 Cross-Racial Interaction While we could find that there is a noticeable increase in racial dive rsity representation through prime time broadcasting networks, what a bout the quality of raci al representations in term of cross-racial interaction? There were only 10.3% of all ads (n=32) were indicated with cross-racial interaction. Due to absence of Caucasian-Native Ameri can interaction in sample ads, it was excluded from analysis. Table 5-7. Comparison of cr oss-racial interaction Black-Caucasian n=21(66.2%) CaucasianAsian n=4(10.8%) CaucasianHispanic n=3 (9.2%) More than two racial groups n=4 (10.8%) Interdependence ratings Mean 3.193.29 2.67 3.00 SD Mean 1.33 3.46 1.6 3.28 1.37 2.67 1.41 3.57 1) Independent goalscommon goals 2) Competitive-cooperative SD 1.24 1.60 1.37 1.13 Individuation ratings Mean2.44 2.57 2.17 2.14 SD Mean 1.10 2.37 1.99 2.57 1.60 2.33 1.21 2.14 SD Mean 1.13 1.07 1.99 2.14 1.50 1.67 .90 1.14 1) Low intimacy-high intimacy 2) Narrowly definedmultifaceted Romance rating SD .26 1.95 1.63 .38 Table 5-7 shows the means and standard deviation of interacti on rating scale by different minority groups combination. There are no statis tically significant diffe rences between groups was not significant using a critic al alpha of .05 (F (3, 12) = .001, p = .43). Since we only coded a very small sample of racial intera ction case in this study, it has very little statistical power to find real effects. The data showed th at the quantity of cross-racial in teractions featured Caucasians and African Americans (66.2%) far more than a ny other cross-racial co mbination. Based on the


36 comparison of mean scores for interdepende nce, individuation, a nd romance ratings, the interaction between Caucasians and Asians showed to be more common-goal oriented, more intimate, and more romantic than other cross-r acial interactions. As well across the different racial combinations, the results showed that in terdependence ratings were generally higher than individuation ratings and romance rating, which m eans cross racial relationships are more likely to portrayed as cooperative with common goal in formal situations, however they are emotionaldetached, not intimate in individualized occasions. Product Type by Minority Groups Previous studies found that minority models we re more likely to be featured in ads for certain product category. Table 5-8 shows the percentages with which different ethic groups were portrayed in prime time television commerc ials. Because the cases with Native American were rarely shown on TV, so Native Ameri can was exclude from further analysis. A statistically significant diffe rence was found in the representation of different ethnic groups in different product categories dur ing the prime time TV commercials (ChiSquare=87.59, df=65, p<.05). Black characters we re most commonly depicted in commercials for financial services (17.7%) and food (fas t food: 12.1%, non-fast food: 11.4%), which is consistent with the results of previous studies (e.g., Mastro & stern, 2003). Caucasian characters were featured most in commercials for hous ehold and domestic products (22.2%) and non-fast food (13.4%). Asians appeared most commonly in ads for household and domestic products (23.8%), followed by ads for automobiles (19.1% ), and soft drink, candy & gum (19%). The commercials most frequently featuring Hisp anics were for household & domestic products (28%), technological & electr onic products and banking & fina ncial service (12.5%, 12.5% respectively). It should be not ed that commercials for house hold and domestic products are no


37 longer exclusively dominated by Caucasian mode ls, which is contrast to stereotypical connection between whiteness and clean liness (Henderson & Baldasty, 2003). Table 5-8. Product type by racial groups Caucasian % African American % Asian American % Hispanic % Undetermined % Soft drink, candy and gum 4.8 5.2 19.0 6.3 0.0 Non-fast food 13.4 11.4 0.0 9.4 5.3 Fast food 8.3 12.1 9.5 6.3 5.3 Restaurant & cafe 2.0 1.8 0.0 6.3 0.0 Apparel & accessories 1.0 1.8 0.0 3.1 0.0 Household product 22.2 14.0 23.8 28.0 15.8 Automobile 11.8 8.8 19.1 6.3 31.6 Technological products 5.0 5.2 0.0 12.5 0.0 Cosmetic 2.3 5.2 0.0 3.1 10.5 Entertainment 2.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 PSA .5 4.0 0.0 0.0 5.3 Banking and financial service 12.3 17.4 19.0 12.5 15.8 Retail 2.5 5.2 0.0 3.1 5.3 Others 11.6 7.9 9.6 3.1 5.3 Total 100% n=192 100% n=56 100% n=8 100% n=23 100% n=17 Chi-square = 87.59 (df=60, p<.05) Setting by Minority Groups Table 8 shows the percentages for different setting in which various ethnic groups were shown. A statistically significant di fference was found in their relati ve representation in different settings (Chi-square=47.92, df=25, p<.01). Caucasians were more lik ely than any other groups to be seen in the home (29.2% for Caucasians versus for African Americans, 20.2%, Hispanic, 15.6%). Also African American and Asian Ameri can characters were featured in ads with multiple setting somewhat more frequently than th eir Caucasian or Hispanic counterparts. Asian


38 Americans appeared most frequently in outdoor settings (33.3%), followed by in work setting (23.8%). Table 5-9. Primary sett ing by minority groups Caucasian African American Asian American Hispanic Undetermined % % % % % Work 10.8 14.9 23.8 3.1 5.3 Home 29.2 20.2 0.0 15.6 10.5 Other indoor 8.6 11.4 14.3 9.4 21.1 Outdoors 22.2 20.2 33.3 12.5 36.8 More than one setting 12.8 17.5 19.1 15.6 15.8 Non-descript 16.4 15.8 9.5 43.8 10.5 Total 100% n=192 100% n=56 100% n=8 100% n=23 100% n=17 Chi-square = 47.92 (df=25, p<.01)


39 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION An average household now watches televi sion for eight hours and 14 minutes a day (Nielson). But the issue that matters isn't how much we're watching but what we're watching. Exploding options have so fragmented the audience, the mass market that TV used to deliver is disintegrating. These same households now average over 100 channels of programming, according to the Nielson report. So advertiser s today have an economic incentive to seek relatively small, homogenous audi ence (Henderson & Baldasty, 2003). In terms of the simple presence of minorities, the findings of my study suggest that prime time TV commercials portray a symbolic worl d of diversity with considerable minority representation. African Americans, in particular, appeared in mo re commercials than might be expected given their numbers in the general population (12.3%), although appearances of other minority groups (Asian Americans, 3.4%; Hisp anics, 5.1%; Native American, .2%) were still underrepresented compared to their actual popula tion in U.S. (Asian American, 4.3, Hispanic, 12.50%; Native American, .9%). It should be noted that the low representation of Hispanics might be due, in part, to coding decisions. While the label Hispanic is often used to describe both ethnicity and race, the classification shoul d refer to populations associated with Latin culture. However, as Latin culture also represen ts groups of various racial origins Caucasian, African, or Asian, for example categorizations based purely on visual r ecognition could easily under-represent Hispanics true presence in adve rtising. Despite this is sue, the study showed a noticeable increase in representati on of minority groups compared w ith previous studies in racial visibility. From this aspect, it seems like that advertisers have paid mo re attention to portray racial diversity by emphasizing the importance of a ta rget market composed with people of color.


40 As well, another interesting finding is about th e progress in the portrayal of minorities by connecting with advertised products or servi ces. The clear connecti on between minorities portrayals and certain pr oduct categories (i.e., stereotypical connection between whiteness and cleanliness) seems to become vague. From instan ce, in this study commercials for household and domestic products are no longer exclusively dominated by Caucasian models. Both Asian Americans and Hispanics models have a higher visi bility than Caucasian in the commercials for household and domestic products. As well people of color become more and more visible in high-end products such as automobiles. For inst ance, Asian Americans appeared most commonly in ads for household and domestic products ( 23.8%), followed by ads for automobiles (19.1%), Regardless the increase of minorities repres entation in TV commercials and improved portrayals of minorities by diminishing the stereo typical connection with advertised products and services, the study also showed some problematic patterns persis t. First, certain aspects of numerical representation remain an issue. For instance, when the number of models was analyzed, only African Americans were ove rrepresented among minority groups. Likewise, when it came to single racial group representa tion, the study found that minorities were still seldom shown without a Caucasian model in th e ads, while Caucasians were much more frequently shown as a single racial group, which is consistent with the results of previous studies (e.g., Bang & Reece, 2003). According to cultiv ation theory, the under-representation of minorities groups may cultivate a belief that minorities are not main-stream enough to appear in TV commercials as the sole group portrayed. In this way, diversity becomes more of an artifact of token representation rather than natural outcome base d on realistic interaction between different racial groups.


41 A second pattern was found in the continued st ereotyping of certain minorities portrayed in prime-time TV commercials. Consistent with previous studies, our study found the continued pattern that minorities groups are more likely to be assigned to minor roles or background roles while Caucasians are portrayed most with ma jor roles. According to cultivation theory, predominant portrayals of Caucasian models may alienate minority audience by featuring Caucasians as superior majority while featur ing minorities as subordi nation. The study also found that Caucasians were more likely to be shown in a home setting than any other racial groups. Asian Americans appeared most frequently in outdoor settings (33.3%), followed by in work settings (23.8%). The absence of portrayals in these settings may cont ribute to a stereotype that Caucasians have stronger family tie than other racial group while Asian Americans are too busy at their workplaces to have family time at ho me. This finding reinforces the research results from Bang and Reece (2003). A third pattern was found in the portrayals of cross-racial interaction. From quantitative representation of minority groups, nearly half of all ads samp led (44.2%) were observed with cross-racial appearances. However, there were only 10.3% (n=32) of all ads indicated a crossracial interaction. From qualitative aspects of cross-racial inte raction, interdependence ratings were generally higher than i ndividuation ratings and romance ra ting, which means cross-racial relationships are more likely to be portraye d as cooperative with common goal in formal situations, yet emotionally-detached and not intimate on individualized occasions. Although cross-racial appearances were shown more than before, the way how it is portrayed is still limited in nature. Television programmers and adve rtisers have diversified content in cosmetic ways to deflect criticism of being ignoring minorities groups (Henderson & Baldasty, 2003). From this


42 study, we find that prime-time tele vision advertising reflects more racial diversity, and did made some progress in minority portrayals by dimini shing the stereotypical association between minorities and certain product category. But substan tial racial diversity re flected is still quite limited in nature. While people of co lor are visible in ads, they tend to appear in peripheral roles. That people of color were shown with less im portance than Caucasian in general seems to underscore advertisers very limited interest in diversity. Because advertisers are afraid of alienating or even irritating th e Caucasian, the largest population is U.S., by demonstrating too much interest in racial di versity. As a consumer-oriented medium, television reflects advertisers desire to re ach upscale and primarily Cau casian audience (Goodale, 1999). Furthermore, fragmentation of television audience s, driven largely by th e tremendous growth of cable television, encourages such segment-relate d marketing strategies (Henderson & Baldasty, 2003). However, given both substantial and grow ing economic power of minority groups in U.S., this narrow marketing strategy is at best short sighted (G oodman, 1999; Henderson & Baldasty, 2003). Advertisers should pay more a ttention to reflect a more diverse and positive pictures of racial diversity instead of token representation of minorities, in order to keep tempo with the reality of racial diversity.


43 CHAPTER 7 LIMITATIONS Although this study provides insight into minor ities representations in current prime TV commercials, the picture is far more complex. On e limitation of the study involves the fact that only two mainstream broadcasting networks used----FOX & CBS, and a limited ads pool were analyzed. A further study should include ethnic media to see wh ether there are quantitative and qualitative difference between ethnic media and ma instream media. Given the close link between advertising and television shows, the future research could analyze the nature of racial diversity both on shows and on ads, to see if levels of re presentation match or, if they do not, how they might differ. The sample week (February 18-Feburary 24) that we videotaped TV commercials was coincident with the sweeps dates of 2007 (February 1 February 28, 2007) which has been criticized as not representative of typical programming. In view of this, more diversity in minority portrayals may be expected due to sweep s. Future content analysis in this area should avoid sweeps with the hopes that the results could be generalized to reflect the racial representations in prime-time TV commercials around the whole year.


44 APPENDIX A OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF KEY VARIABLES (Bang & Reece, 2003; Henderson & Baldasty, 2003; Weigel, Loomis & Soja, 1980) Race: Caucasian: relates to a human group having light-colored skin, freckled, especially of European ancestry. There is considerable variety in the hair color of whites, diverse eye colors as well. African American: a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa. Black" physical traits (such as hard, sparse hair texture, dark sk in pigmentation, thicker lip formation, and/or bigger but underprojected nose shape etc.). Asian: an Asian American is generally defined as a person of Asian ancestry who was born in or is an immigrant to the United States. Including Indian, Ch inese, Vietnam Japanese, etc., commonly black-haired, shor ter height compared with western people. Hispanic: any person, of any racial background, of a ny country and of any religion who has at least one ancestor from the people of Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America, whether or not the person has Spanish ancestry. Usually recognized as dark-skinned with black hair and brown or black eyes. Native American: the indigenous peoples within the territory that is now encompassed by the continental United States including parts of Alaska down to their descendants in modern times. Physical characteristics that Native American s have in common include Mongoloid features, coarse, straight black hair, dark eyes, sparse body hair, and a skin color ranging from yellowbrown to reddish brown. Undetermined: choose this option if the race doesnt fit one of the other categories; for example, people of color whose races are not exactly identifiable, includ ing biracial; or cant tell.


45 Perceived Importance of Characters: Major role: a character who is very im portant to the advertising theme or story line, usually shown in the foreground or shown holding the product. Minor role: a character who is of aver age importance to the advert ising theme or story line. These people are not difficult to find in the ad while looking at it cas ually, but they are not spotlighted and do not hold the product. Background role: a character who is difficult to find in an ad (not likely to be spotted by someone viewing the commercial casually) and is not important to the ad theme or story line. Primary Setting: Work: One's place of employment, including a factory, plant, or similar building or complex of buildings where a specific type of business or industry is carried on. Home: interior of a residential building, including kitchen, bedr oom, family room, or garage. Other Indoor Location: any interior space that cant be cl assified in one of the previous categories. Includes factories, health clubs, movie theaters, museums, etc. Outdoors: any backyard, playground, park, forest, beach, road, sidewalk More Than One Setting: choose this option only if two or more locations appear in the commercial and no one location dominates the commerc ial; i.e., all or most of the settings have about equal time. Other: choose this option if the lo cation doesnt fit one of the ot her categories; for example, when there is no setting or th ere is an artificial background. Primary Type of Product or Service: Soft drinks, candy and gum: Soft drinks are nonalcoholic, flavor ed, carbonated beverage, usually commercially prepared and sold in bottles or ca ns. Candy is A rich, swee t confection made with


46 sugar and often flavored or combined with fru its or nuts. And gum is a sweetened, flavored preparation for chewing, usually made of chicle. Non-fast food: More nutritious food, usua lly prepared domestically or more delicately for consumption at home or elsewhere. Fast food: Inexpensive, less nutritious food, such as hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza, etc., prepared and served quickly for consumption on the premises or elsewhere. Athletic shoes, wear: Shoes or clothing, especially for a pa rticular use of gy m sports or outdoor sports. Household and domestic products: Products that are used at home such as cleaners, sponges, soap, etc. Automobiles: A device or structure for tr ansporting persons or things including sedan, truck, etc. Technology products: Such as MP3, camera, TV, Hi-Fi, computer, etc. including corresponding accessories for them. Cosmetics: A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, perfume, etc., designe d to beautify the body, especially face and hair, by direct application. Movies, theater: films that can be seen in theaters or vi deotapes that can be rented or purchased for home viewing. Clothing: all types of clothing for sp orts, school, or dressy occa sions, including shoes. Also includes fashion accessories and jewelry. PSA: public service announcements s ponsored by a governmental agen cy or an organization that promotes good health, safety, high-minded behavior, etc. Other: any product or service that doesnt fit one of the other categories.


47 APPENDIX B CODEBOOK Commercial ID # ______ 2007 American prime-time TV commerci als study: portrayals of racial diversity content analysis codebook Instruction: All national commercials were coded. Once coded, repeated ad frequency was tracked for sampling accuracy. Local commercials political advertisements, trailers for television shows, movies, and sporting events were excluded, as were animation and graphic representations. ONE: Brand name ___________________ TWO: Network (circle one) 01: ABC (8-11pm) 02: NBC (8-11pm) 03: CBS (8-11pm) 04: Fox (8-11pm) THREE: Commercial Date of Airing (circle one) 01: Sunday, Feb. 18 02: Monday, Feb. 19 03: Tuesday, Feb 20 04: Wednesday, Feb. 21 05: Thursday, Feb. 22 06: Friday, Feb. 23 07: Saturday, Feb. 24 FOUR: The number of characters & racial diversity (For commercials with countable characters, nine characters maximum, please go to item A below. For commercials with more than nine characters total, and no distinctive major role character, please skip to item B below.) A: Total number of characters featured in the commercial: ____ (a number less than nine).


48 Indicate the number of differe nt races represented by any char acters seen in the commercial. Place a 0 in the accompanying space to indicate that the race category was not represented in the commercial. 1. Caucasian: __________ 2. African American: __________ 3. Asian: ___________ 4. Hispanic: ___________ 5. Native American: ________ 6. Indeterminate: __________ Explain: If more than two racial groups are featured in the commercial, GO TO ITEM FIVE if only one racial group appears, and please GO TO ITEM NINE directly. B: Difficult or impossible to count (for commercials with nine or more characters), indicate if racial diversity (appearance of mo re than two racial groups) is pr esent by circling the appropriate response below: 01: Yes, racial diversity could be observed within the group 02: No, racial diversity could not be observe d within the group 03: I can not determine if racial divers ity is present within the group. Go to question NINE FIVE: For commercials with presence of more than two racial groups, rate the perceived importance of the respective character(s) accord ing to 1) his/her racial background and 2) his/her perceived relationship to other characters featured in the commercial. Major role characters are defined as a character that is very important to the a dvertising theme or story line, usually shown in the foreground or shown holding the product. Minor role characters are those of average importance to the a dvertising theme or story line. Background characters are difficult to find in an ad, not likely to be spot ted by someone viewing th e commercial casually, and are not important to the ad theme or story line. If there is more than one character from different racial groups (e.g. White and African American) with ma jor role, you should circle all categories that apply. If there ar e no characters with major role s in the commercial, you should select not applicable. A: Race of character(s) with a major role in the commercial (circle all that apply): 01: Caucasian(s)


49 02: African American(s) 03: Asian(s) 04: Hispanic(s) 05: Undetermined 06: Not applicable A-a: Gender of character(s) wi th a major role in the commerci al (circle all that apply) 01: Males 02: Females B: Race of character(s) with a minor role in the commercial (circle all that apply) 01: Caucasian(s) 02: African American(s) 03: Asian(s) 04: Hispanic(s) 05: Undetermined 06: Not applicable B-b: Gender of character(s) with minor role in the commercial (cir cle all that apply) 01: Males 02: Females C: Race of character(s) with a background role in the commercial (ci rcle all that apply) 01: Caucasian(s) 02: African American(s) 03: Asian(s) 04: Hispanic(s) 05: Undetermined 06: Not applicable C-c: Gender of character(s) with background ro le in the commercial (c ircle all that apply)


50 01: Males 02: Females SIX: Is there interaction happening between charac ter(s) of different ra ces featured in the commercial? (Circle the answer Yes or No) 01: Yes (If Yes, Go To Item SEVEN ) 02: No (If No, Go To Item NINE ) SEVEN: Please rate the degree of interdependence and individuation according to a 5point scale from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates a lo w rating on the interdependence dimension and 5 indicates a high rating. A: Interdependence ratings: Interdependence characterizes inte ractions by rating (a) the extent to which the characters held common versus in dependent goals and (b) th e extent to which the characters were engaged in a coope rative versus competitive encounter. 1) Circle the number that best reflects the exte nt to which the charact ers featured in the commercial had independent or common goals. Independent goals 1 2 3 4 5 Common goals 2) Circle the number that best reflects the extent to which the characters featured in the commercial had a competitive or cooperative relationship. Competitive relationship 1 2 3 4 5 Cooperative relationship B: Individuation ratings: Individuation characteri zes interactions by the degree of intimacy demonstrated by characters (high vs. low) in th e commercial and by the nature of the relationship displayed (narrow vs. multi-faceted). With regard to the latter, a relationship that is narrowlydefined portrays interactions limited by some degree of formal boundaries (e.g., business and workplace interactions). Multifaceted relationships involve interactions that are more informal or that have been negotiated by the parties in advance (e.g., family rela tionships, friendships). 1) Circle the number that best reflects the leve l of intimacy portrayed by the characters featured in the commercial. Low intimacy 1 2 3 4 5 High intimacy 2) Circle the number that best reflects the relationship between charac ters featured in the commercial. Narrowly defined 1 2 3 4 5 Multifaceted


51 EIGHT: Rate the level of romantic involvement portrayed wh en cross-sex interaction occurred in the commercial. Low involvement 1 2 3 4 5 High involvement NINE: Indicate the primary setting where the ch aracters were located in the commercial (circle one) 01: Work 02: Home 03: Other indoors 04: Outdoors 05: More than one setting 06: Non-descript TEN: Indicate the type of product or service advertised in the comm ercial (circle one) 01: Soft drinks, candy and gum 02: Non-fast food 03: Fast food 04: Beer & Wine 05: Restaurants & Cafes 06: Apparel & accessories 07: Athletic shoes & equipments 08: Household and domestic products (such as toothpaste, soap, household cleaners). 09: Automobiles 10: Technological & electr onic products 11: Cosmetics 12: Entertainment (Such as movies, theaters) 13: Public service announcements 14: Banking and financial services 15: Retail (such as grocery retail, drug store& pharmacies) 16: Other: Specify _______________________________


52 Eleven: The product is target ed to_________ (Circle one) 01: Males 02: Females 03: Children (12 and under) 04: General Users Twelve: The advertising message is directed at ________. (Circle one) 01: Males 02: Females 03: Children (12 and under) 04: General Audience Coders comments: In the space below please make any additional comments about the commercial or the characters portrayed in the commercials that you believe would assist in the research analysis: Coders signature: _________________________________________ Coding date: ______________________________________________ THE END *********************************************************************


53 LIST OF REFERENCES Aldridge, D.P. (1978). Interna tional marriages: Empirical and theoretical considerations. Journal of Black Studies, 8 (3), 355-368. Aust, Charles F., Gibson, Rhonda J., Hoffman, Kath leen D., Love, Curtis C., Ordman, Virginia L., Pope, Janice T., Seigler, Patrick D., & Z illmann,Dolf, (1995). Radical rap: Does it further ethnic division? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 16 Bang, Hae-Kyong, & Reece, Bonnie (2003). Minoritie s in childrens television commercials: New, improved, and stereotyped. The Journal of Consumer Affairs 37 (1). Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Baptista-Fernandez, Pilar, & Greenberg, B.S. (1980). The context, characteristics and communication behavior of Blacks on television. NJ: Ablex. pp.13-21. Billings, Andrew C., & Eastman, S. T. (2003). Fr aming identities: Gender, ethnic, and national parity in network announcing of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Journal of Communication 53 (4) 569-586 Bristor, J. M., Lee, R. G., & Hunt, M. R. ( 1995). Race and ideology: African American images in television advertising. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 14(1), 48. Carey, J. (1988). Media, myths and narratives: Television and the press. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Chandler, Daniel (1995). Cultivation theory Retrieved December 12th, 2006, from Coltrane, S. & Messineo, M. (2000). The perp etuation of subtle prejudice: Race and gender imagery in 1990s Television Advertising Sex Roles 42, 363-389. Craig, S. (1992). Women as home Caregivers: Gender portrayals in OTC drug commercials. Journal of Drug Education, 22, 303-312. Entman, R., & Rojecki, A. (2000). The black image in the wh ite mind: Media and race on television. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Goodale, G. (1999).Whats missing from this pictur e? TV networks scramble to make changes after lineups are denounced for lack of racial diversity. Christian Science Monitor. Goodman, T. (1999). Xers: wired and desire d, on TV, youth is always being served. San Francisco Examiner, Baylife 99.


54 Greenberg, B.S. & Collette, L. (1997). The chan ging faces on TV: A demographic analysis of network television's new seasons, 1966-1992. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 41, 1-13. Green, C. L. (1999). Ethnic evaluations of adver tising: Interaction effect s of strength of ethnic identification, media placement and degree of racial composition Journal of Advertising 28. Henderson, J.J., & Baldasty, G.J. (2003). Race, advertising, and prime-time television The Howard Journal of Communications 14, 97-112. Holsti, Oli, R. (1969). Content Analysis for the So cial Sciences and Humanities Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Humphrey, Ronald & Schuman, Howard (1984) The portrayal of Blacks in magazine advertisements: 1950-1982. Public Opinion Quarterly 48, 551-563 Kvicala, Jim(2005). Buying power of U.S. minorities continue s upward climb, says University of Georgias Selig Center for economic growth. Retrieved February 2nd. 2007, from releases/2005/minority_buying_2005.html. Larson, M.S. (2002). Race and interracial relati onships in children's television Commercials The Howard Journal of Communications 13, 223-235. Li-Vollmer, Meredith (2002). Race representation in child-targeted television commercials. Mass Communication & Society, 5(2), 207. Lubbers, Marcel, Vergeer ,Maurice & Scheepers, Peer (2000). Exposure to newspapers and attitudes toward ethnic minoritie s: A longitudinal analysis. The Howard Journal of Communications, 11, 127-143. Mastro, Dana E. & Greenberg, B.S. (2000). The portrayal of racial minorities on prime time television. Journal of Broadcasti ng and Electronic Media, 44 (4), 690-703. Mastro, D.E. & Stern, S.R. (2003). Representation s of race in television commercials: A content analysis of prime-time advertising Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 47(4), 638-647. McQuail, D. & Windahl, S. (1993). Communication models for the study of mass communication. London: Longman. Morgan, M. (1986). Television and th e erosion of regional diversity. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 30, 123-139. Riffe, D., Goldson, H., Saxton, K., & Yu,Y. ( 1989). Females and minorities in TV ads in 1987 Saturday childrens programs Journalism Quarterly, 66(1).


55 Schlinger, Mary & Plummer, Joseph (1972). Advertising in Black and White Journal of Marketing Research, 9,149-153. Segrin, Chris, & Nabi, Robin L. (2002). Do es television viewing cultivate unrealistic expectations about marriage? Journal of Communication, 52(2), 247. Stanfield, Rochelle L. (1997). The blending of the United States Retrieved October 23rd, 2006, from ls/itsv/0699/ijse/stanfld.htm Taylor, C., Lee, J., & Stern, B. (1995). Portraya ls of African, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in magazine advertising. American Behavioral Scientist, 38(4). Taylor, Charles & Stern, Barbara (1997). Asia n Americans: Television advertising and the model minority stereotype. Journal of Advertising, 26, 4761. U.S. Census Bureau (2000). United State Census 2000. Retrieved October 27, 2006, from Weigel, R., Loomis, J., & Soja, M. (1980). Race relationships on prime time television. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 884-893. Weigel, Russell H., Kim, Eleanor L. & Frost, J.L. (1995). Race relations on prime time television reconsidered: Patterns of continuity and change Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 223-236. Wenner, L.A. (1989). Media, sports, and society: Th e research agenda. Media sport New York: Routledge, p.134-153. Williams, J., Qualls, W., & Grier, S. (1995). Racia lly exclusive real estate advertising: Public policy implications for fair housing practices. Journal of Public Po licy & Marketing, 14, 225-244. Wilkes, R. E., & Valencia, H. (1989). Hisp anics and Blacks in te levision commercials Journal of Advertising, 18(1), 19.


56 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Bimei Ni was born in Fujian, P.R. China, on May 13, 1983. She received her bachelors degree of liberal arts in 2005 from Shanghai International Studies Un iversity. Right after graduation, she decided to further her study in Un iversity of Florida for a masters degree in advertising. After two years of ha rd work, she will graduate with distinction in the summer of 2007.