Buying blackness : Black audiences and sports advertising
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Blackness has a long history of being used to sell products. Advertisers lean on stereotypical representations to relate to the Black consumer, but to also make their product seem trendy, acceptably rebellious, or socially conscious to a general White audience. This study reviews the historical representations of Blackness in advertising and specifically in sports media to uncover the harmful, yet subtle stereotypes in sports advertising. To analyze the impact of selling Blackness, the research used focus groups to examine how Black, college-young adult audiences engage with and identify racial constructions in Nike advertisements, and thus, how that influences their views on Nike as a brand. This thesis used audience decoding theory to demonstrate the process of how Black audiences understand media messages. Participants stated that media representations lack the multiplicity and diversity that exist in Blackness. Overall, these audiences perceived Nike's efforts to represent Black individuals in its advertising as positive; yet in their decoding processes they also critiqued the corporation's messages. They wrestled with the idea that their Blackness was being exploited for the monetary gain of a corporation, but simultaneously, they still wanted to see Black representations in media. Participants understood that they participated in the commodification of Blackness, but they were not able to envision an alternative.
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