Tapping the Total Market
In 1966, a University of California study revealed that fewer than 2 percent of television commercials included black actors. But by the end of the decade, things were beginning to change, and beer makers eager to tap the “total market” were among the first to feature minorities in commercials.
As early as 1965, Rheingold Beer, for example, was airing TV spots featuring African American, Puerto Rican, and Asian actors. The venerable Miss Rheingold contests–an annual institution in New York since 1939–had been discontinued the previous year, due largely to the realization that a single Miss Rheingold could not accurately reflect the brewery’s racially diverse customer base.