Here is the first of four examples of the type of SUV advertisements that appear in Ebony. None of the SUV ads sampled from Ebony are set in the Great Outdoors (0%), compared with 79% and 71% of the SUV ads in Outside and Time, respectively. This ad appears to have been shot on a sound stage so there is no real setting, but the clothes worn by the models are a dead giveaway: this is definitely NOT an outdoor advertisement. And just in case there was any doubt, the text of the add reads "Make that move . . . In and out and around urban traffic." This SUV is never going off-road. And by extension, its owners are not either.
Ebony: July 2000, p. 29
Click image to enlarge
Here is another example of a typical SUV advertisement found in Ebony. "Take the rough with the smooth" touts the text of the ad, and the small pictures that make up the frame of the ad give examples of the many "pitfalls. detours. potholes. cracks and bumps" that frequently appear on the "road to the office and the road to your son's little league game." Notice there are no images of the types of hazards so often depicted in the SUV ads appearing in Time and Outside: no boulders to straddle, no fallen logs to climb over, nor any rivers to cross, presumably because this SUV never leaves the pavement.
Ebony: November 1996, inside cover
Click image to enlarge
This third example from Ebony emphasizes the duality of SUVs: they are rugged enough for work, yet refined enough for play. The GMC Jimmy is equally at home helping "Joe" remodel the local church and chauffeuring "Joe," "Donna," and their two well-dressed friends to a jazz concert. "Almost like being in two places at once," as long as one of the two places is not located in the Great Outdoors. Again, not a single SUV ad sampled from Ebony makes use of the outdoor leisure identity to promote the product. Contrast this advertisement with the duality ad from Time that combines an urban identity with an outdoor leisure identity.
Ebony: March 1997, p. 95
Click image to enlarge
Of all the SUV ads I came across in Ebony, this final example comes the closest to displaying an outdoor leisure identity. This is another "duality ad" featuring juxtaposed images of two distinct settings, but the attention is focused primarily on the larger photo: Mom and Dad, nicely dressed, at home in the suburbs. The text of the ad highlights the luxury features of the Jeep Cherokee (for "when it's time for a night out on the town"), while also touting its toughness ("shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive" and "the most powerful engine in its class"), but the relative size of the two images reinforces the message that this is primarily a street vehicle. Also, the "off-road" image is much more tame than the outdoor images appearing in the other magazines.
Ebony: June 1989, p. 73
click image to enlarge
return to main page