15. “Bull” Durham Smoking Tobacco
“Racism,” says Business Insider, “has a long history in advertising.” What’s more, racist ads still appear today, with companies such as Intel, PopChips, Sony and Burger King all having been accused of promoting their products in racially insensitive ways. Although most of these unacceptable modern-day ads are retracted after inciting a hue and cry, the vintage ads featured here were quite unapologetic about the views they presented. And while they might hail from a different era, they’re still rather too close for comfort. Take a look.
According to Duke University, “Bull” Durham Tobacco originated at the end of the American Civil War when “soldiers from both sides raided a farmer’s tobacco crop as they waited for a surrender to be completed. After returning home, these same soldiers wrote back asking for more.” Eventually, the tobacco was given the name Bull Durham. And it would become what researcher Lynn Pritcher has called “the largest selling tobacco brand in the world.”
W.T. Blackwell and Company were in charge of advertising for the company, and by the early 20th century, most major and minor league baseball parks featured gigantic Bull Durham posters. Many of them, like the advert above, were offensive, implying that all African Americans were simple, carefree and easy-going. Such beliefs and stereotypes were all too common in the Jim Crow era.