Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ad Campaigns Featuring Models of Color

Ad campaigns are how models earn the big bucks. I believe it is also the genre which best depicts social norms. When you choose a model for your campaign, you pick a face that represents the brand and the demographic the brand is appealing to. 

Models of color have often been under-represented in ad campaigns. Of course, certain brands, which market solely to what they label the "urban" market will have more "urban" models, and magazines from China or Japan will obviously feature many East Asian supermodels. But how often do you see models of color in high fashion label ads or cosmetic ads? Today, let's see which labels present a positive view of models of color in their ad campaigns.

 There are certain labels where you will never find a model of African descent either on the runway or in ad campaigns. Chanel is perhaps the most obvious example. Karl Lagerfeld allows the occasional East Asian supermodel to walk his runways, but all his campaigns go to European models. I would single out Armani, except I heard that Rihanna is to become a face of Armani in the next campaign.


  1. I agree with you but I don't think that Rihanna is a good choice. She's not a model so for her to be the face is not because of her looks or her talent but because of her fame. It's a money making scheme. It doesn't show anything because people won't notice the fact that she isn't European, they will just notice her. And because fashion is mostly European naturally the muses and the models which fit the designer's ideas and dreams are White.

  2. Well, she's replacing Megan Fox. So yes, Armani uses celebrities instead of models (my pet peeve), this time he's chosen a woman of color. Obviously Rihanna doesn't need more media exposure, but I think black women do. A choice was made, and I'm glad that they went with her.

    Of course, who knows how she'll be styled, and if they play up her sex appeal, is that positive representation? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it's empowering. Maybe it's exploitative. Also, I think she's only the face of the Armani Jeans, which is their lowest level. Most of the ads that feature black people are lower end products, like Gap, American Eagle. Lot's of denim ads, lots of athletic wear ads. With the exception of Joan Smalls, there are hardly any black women in high end ad campaigns, and I wonder when the typecasting will end.

  3. Probably when the designs are not being targeted at rich Europeans. The demographic is what determines the adds and there is a lot of racism in Europe.

    And with Rihanna, well, when anyone plays up her sexuality is becomes exploitative. Even her own albums are that way.


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