Through advertising, designers play a vital role in crafting a product’s identity. These identities construct cultural “myths” and morality of products, teams, political affiliations, and their respective consumers. A brand is a visual signifier of a lifestyle that imbues the consumer’s social status with economic and social value. While this may have positive financial implications, the consumer’s subscription to various brand narratives can encourage tribalism in addition to negatively impact the understanding of others. The work of dissecting social, cultural, and historical meanings in images explores the dynamics of social power and ideology that produced them. This research examines the manifestation of widely shared social assumptions of African Americans in Advertisements of the Jim Crow South. It will conclude by drawing parallels between racist ads of the past and current Ads that echo similar motifs.
Keywords: Graphic design, Cultural Criticism, Race, Semiotics
About the Author(s)
Omari Souza is a first-generation American of Jamaican descent, raised in the Bronx NY. Before working at Texas State University, Omari gained work experience with companies such as VIBE magazine, the Buffalo News, CBS Radio, and Case Western Reserve University. He received his BFA in Digital Media from Cleveland Institute of Art and his MFA in Design from Kent State University. Omari’s research explores the idea of perceptions, and how visual narratives influence culture, how we view ourselves and others around us.