Deconstructing Subtle Racist Imagery in Television Ads

Haseeb A. Shabbir, Michael R. Hyman, Jon Reast, Dayananda Palihawadana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Although ads with subtle racist imagery can reinforce negative stereotypes, advertisers can eliminate this problem. After a brief overview of predominantly U.S.-based research on the racial mix of models/actors in ads, a theoretical framework for unmasking subtle racial bias is provided and dimensional qualitative research (DQR) is introduced as a method for identifying and rectifying such ad imagery. Results of a DQR-based study of 622 U.K. television ads with at least one Black actor indicate (1) subtle racially biased imagery now supersedes overt forms, and (2) the most popular ad appeals often mask negative stereotypes. Implications for public policy and advertisers, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-436
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date9 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


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