Big Black Women On The Commercial Casting Couch

The New York Times takes a closer look today at the increasing use of heavyset black women in ads:

This caricature, playing on stereotypes of heavy black women as boisterous and sometimes aggressive, has been showing up for some time in stand-up comedy routines and in movies like “Big Momma’s House’’ and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.’’ Often, the pieces are produced by directors and writers who are black themselves.
With black creators giving more acceptability to the image, it is now starting to appear more often in television commercials as well. Most recently some variation of this character has appeared in commercials for Dairy Queen, Universal Studios and Captain Morgan rum.
But despite the popularity of such characters among blacks, the use of the image of big black women as the target of so many jokes is troublesome to some marketers and media scholars.
“It is perpetuating a stereotype that black females are strong, aggressive, controlling people,’’ said Tommy E. Whittler, a marketing professor at DePaul University. “I don’t think you want to do that.’’

I think it’d be interesting to hear from the creatives who write lots of TV, as well as the broadcast producers about this, because it comes down to the individual scripts and spots: Do people write ads with this caricature in mind, or does the thought to cast these women occur during the casting process?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

  • http://multicultclassics.blogspot.com HighJive

    “Do people write ads with this caricature in mind… ?”
    Looking forward to hearing from that group.

  • Menino

    i want to have black lady friends