Diversity in American advertising: a case study of Coca-Cola advertisements and their role in homogenizing the diversity movement

Class Year


Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

William Hoynes

Second Advisor

Alexander Kupfer


Through a historical study of advertising, this project aims to show how the idea of “diversity” is used by corporations to benefit the dominant hegemonic, and ultimately attempt to homogenize the diverse populations that they supposedly are highlighting. Analyzing the growth of the advertising industry and considering socio-political movements, this project traces how advertisers have represented minority populations, and how these representations have changed through the years. Coca-Cola is used as a case study in this project due to its global scope, but more importantly because its ads have been lauded for carrying positive messages. Specific Coca-Cola advertisements from different time periods are used to further illustrate the path through which the idea of using minorities to show diversity was taken. Hopefully this project will serve to complicate the idea of diversity, and help illustrate how representation (specifically, representation controlled by the dominant hegemonic) is not necessarily as beneficial for minorities as often assumed it is.

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