The Crusader Newspaper Group

Using Black celebrities to push pop, pudding and politics

By Gene Demby,

We take black mega-celebrity endorsers as a given today: Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, the husk that was once Tiger Woods. They wield a kind of agency that seems to continually reset the upper limits of black aspiration, while remaining more or less incidental to the median black condition.

It wasn’t always so. There was a moment in the 1960s, for example, when the Supremes were one of the biggest acts in show business, with a string of Top 10 hits. But the trio weren’t making a lot of money endorsing products made by big companies — or, at least, not endorsing those products to “mainstream” (read: white) audiences.

According to Tom Burrell, the pioneering ad executive and the subject of the latest Code Switch podcast, Coca-Cola would only place ads featuring the Supremes on black radio, so worried was the soft drink giant that the trio might scandalize white consumers.


Recent News

Scroll to Top