Publication Date

Spring 2006


In the spring of 1997, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly published a study by Lawrence Bowen and Jill Schmid entitled "Minority Presence and Portrayal in Mainstream Magazine Advertising: An Update." The two professors of communication had selected editions from 1987 and 1992 of nine mass circulation magazines with a significant minority readership and coded every advertisement in those magazines for minority presence and portrayal. They found that the use of African-Americans in magazine advertisements had increased since the results of past studies had been published, but that the use of Hispanics and Asians remained minimal. They also found that the majority of the advertisements using minorities used Caucasians as well, and that advertisements featuring only minorities were very rare.

This study was conducted in order to determine if any significant change in the presence and portrayal of minorities has occurred over the past thirteen years. The same magazines as in Bowen and Schmid's (1997) study were chosen, and four issues of each magazine from 2005 were examined and coded for minority presence and portrayal.

This study indicated that the use of African-American models has increased while the use of Asian and Hispanic models remains fairly low. Stereotypes were not so prevalent in this study as they were in the previous study. This study concludes that the values of tolerance and equality are beginning to take root in our society and that increased purchasing power among minorities has forced advertisers to consider them a valuable public.