Aunt Jemima's Advertising Campaign From The Late 19th To The Late 20th Century

1995 words - 8 pages

In the late 1880's in Missouri two men named Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood created a revolutionary instant pancake flour mix. They created the trademark after visiting a theater and seeing women in blackface, aprons, and red bandanas doing a performance of a song entitled "Old Aunt Jemima." This popular song of the time inspired them to use this very image as their company logo.

Rutt and Underwood used many different ways to exploit this new image. They used posters, live appearances, memorabilia, and of course on the product itself. These two men practiced advertising in a way where it quickly linked image and product in such a way that a lasting impression is created in the public's mind. They used a clever promotion strategy that promoted the idea that Aunt Jemima was a real cook who made the best pancakes in the south. To know the history of the stereotype about African American women and why they spent so much time in the kitchen there has to be an understanding of how African American women were thought to be able to handle heat better because of their darker skin, so that that is why they were assigned the jobs closest to the furnaces and stoves. Aunt Jemima's relationship with the South was intentionally full of romanticism and intrinsic values. She was made to represent the splendor of the Old and New South. Those who might have been prone to believe that the New South had nothing of quality left to contribute after war and slavery needed to look no further than Aunt Jemima's pancake mix to see otherwise The way they did this was by taking the image of a stereotypical depiction of African American women as servants, and portrayed these servants as fat, unattractive, but happy. Aunt Jemima is a characteristic of most advertising (at this time called reconstruction advertising) with African American women, showing how their place was in the kitchen and to serve the public

( www.prmuseum.com ). This was pretty much the African American image in advertising during the time of the creation of Aunt Jemima; a battered mule to carry all of America's problems so that it made the rest of America feel better. Aunt Jemima was one of the many an examples that displayed drastic difference between a dominant and an oppressed group. It showed these differences rather than to use goods as a method to iron out the differences or to undermine potential conflicts, whether they are class-based or racial (Goings 12). The changes and growth of consumerism in advertising created a society where people could project changes in their status through the acquisition of consumer goods. Advertising's ability to promote this connection struck a deep and responsive chord within American society. The stereotypical images of African American people became ."..popular `advertising hooks' for consumer products, armed primarily at the white working class (Goings 12). Aunt Jemima's trademark mirrored America's changing perceptions of...

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