When Commercials Actually Meant Something…


The advertising industry is often snubbed for not properly representing – or even appealing to – diverse communities. Even though present-day commercials like Jerry Rice’s performance in this Popeyes ad show that we still have a long way to go, others such as the iconic #BlackGirlMagic feature in last year’s Apple ad show that with the right team – and conscious participants – we can appeal to our communities without simultaneously disrespecting them.

We wanted to see how this was done in year’s past and came across an absolute gem from the 1970s: Frederick Douglass making a cameo in an Afro Sheen commercial. Not only did these folks get it right by selling a Black product using Black people, it also incorporated Black history! And you know we can’t get enough of that!

Afro Sheen was created in the 1960s by George Ellis Johnson in the middle of a wave of Black hair admiration and empowerment. It was one of the first natural hair care product lines for Black people (yes, before Carol’s Daughter or Miss Jessie’s), and the product line supported a variety of Black hairstyles: cornrows, afro puffs, and more. The product used advertising to promote messages of Black unity and empowerment, casting all Black actors and empowering Black couples through positive images on the screen. Not only that, the company also featured references to Black history: like here with Frederick Douglass, here with Queen Sheeba, and this total ode to true, Black beauty right here.

The post When Commercials Actually Meant Something… appeared first on PushBlack.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: