Unbranded: What Advertisements Really Say To A Target Audience
In this series of advertising imagery by Hank Willis Thomas, all traces of logos, headlines and text have been removed, encouraging viewers to recognize that which has become second nature to our experience of life in the modern world.
The Brooklyn Museum features the long-term exhibition, Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America 1968-2008, a collection of advertising images that target a black audience, but have been digitally altered and appropriated by artist Hank Willis Thomas. Each of the ads were found in popular magazines from the late 60s to present day yet all logos, headlines and copy have been removed in an attempt to challenge the viewer’s response and understanding of cultural identity. Untethered from their primary function of selling products, even the most familiar of these images invites new meanings as eyes are forced to look deeper at a photograph sans marketing jargon, drawing into question how the advertising industry (and popular culture) augment stereotypes about race and gender. What are these ads actually saying to their intended target audience?