Ready or not: A new era of brand bravery

In 1955, Mary Alexander became the first African-American woman to appear in a Coca-Cola print advertisement. In 1963, a well-dressed, professional-looking African-American man appeared in an ad for New York Telephone Co. It was the first advertisement of its kind to appear in a general publication. In 1971, Coke first ran its iconic “hilltop” ad, featuring people of various ethnicities singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)” together while holding bottles of Coca-Cola. At the time, these ads broke racial barriers, and today, advertisers again are reflecting a more diverse society by portraying gays and lesbians as well as inter-racial couples.