By Kate Greenleigh The adverts were all about money, and the black-and-white TV ads of the early 1900s were all that were there to show the world what a black-on-black crime was.
They were the black adverts, with the headline “black on black”.
AdvertisementThe ads were not intended to be racist, nor were they overtly political, but they did tell the story of the lives of the people who worked in their factories, and of the communities that lived near them.
They also reflected the attitudes of a generation of people who were becoming increasingly integrated into society, the way their own ancestors had been.
“Black on Black” had become shorthand for the blackness of the industry.
“It was the first time in the history of advertising that the term ‘black on white’ appeared on the screen,” says Caroline Macdonald, a journalist and author of the book The Advertising Age: The Rise and Fall of Black Advertising in the 1920s.
“The whole black community had grown up with this idea that black people were lazy, unintelligent, unintuitive.
It was a very, very, narrow vision of the world that black Americans had.”
But that vision of what black people could be has changed over time.
“AdvertisementWhen it first came out, the term was used to describe the way the advertising industry, which had been largely white, was changing.
The idea of advertising in a world that was so segregated was a revolutionary idea.
In the early years, advertisers were using terms like “colored” and “colored-in” to describe a range of products and services, but the term “black” was the only one that was used.
The term was then used to denote a black person as a result of their skin colour, and to describe how the company or business was run.
The ad industry, and in particular the major companies that were producing them, were trying to break into a new market.
But the term did not stick.
In 1927, after a campaign by the British Association of Advertising Agencies (BAA), advertising was banned in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“But it was just not profitable enough for the companies that produced it.””
In the 1930s the industry was growing at the rate of about 1 per cent a year, and it was getting bigger,” Macdonald says.
“But it was just not profitable enough for the companies that produced it.”
So they wanted to change it.
The new marketing strategies were based on black-to-white, and they were trying a new kind of ad that showed people in a different light.
“That’s how the term black-only was coined, and what was meant to be a “black-on black” ad.
AdvertisementA black-based, multi-layered approach to advertising was to become the default advertising approach in the early 1930s.
The slogan “black only” appeared on hundreds of different adverts across Britain and the US.
By 1930, there were black-themed ads, as well as the first black-owned television station, the London Evening News, and a black actress.
The first black person to be featured on a television show was Mimi Rogers, the former singer and actress who played the title role in The Bells of Saint John.
And the first African-American to play a lead role in a television series was the late Oscar Wilde, who played a young black man in his early twenties.
We have to ask, why was this new, very different marketing strategy needed? “
We are all familiar with how the phrase ‘black-only’ came about, but that’s when black people became the default,” MacLeod says.
“We have to ask, why was this new, very different marketing strategy needed?
It’s not because we needed to change anything about the way black people are seen.
Black people are already being portrayed in a very different way, and we want to change that.””
Black on black” was bornBlack on-black advertising in the 1930 and 1940s was not the only way of presenting a black character.
A black character, or a character of colour, was the new way to advertise.
And for the first few years, advertising agencies were not really concerned with the racial implications of what they were doing.
“A black character is a character that is the product of his own culture,” MacDonald says.
“The advertising industry had to make a decision on the level of what was acceptable, what was not acceptable, how to deal with it.”
Black-on Black was not just about selling products, but about portraying a black life.
“If the ad was about a black woman and a white man, they would be very different characters, but we’d still be able to sell them the same products and still be allowed to show that life was going on in a way that was acceptable to