Butter Krust was not only innovative when it came to manufacturing, they were also very progressive in their marketing campaigns. In the 1960s and 1970s, Butter Krust ran a series of ads in the local African American newspaper, the San Antonio Register. The images in these ads were a departure from the Little Miss Gingham campaign which featured a blonde, rosy cheeked, little girl. During this time, many companies in the United States began efforts to reach Black consumers who were previously excluded from the advertising world.
Little Miss Gingham advertisement | Courtesy of newspapers.com
The ads were unique because they featured real families from San Antonio’s African American community instead of models posing as families. In the photo below, Mr. and Mrs. T.A. White along with their four daughters were photographed in their home with a loaf of Butter Krust prominently displayed on their table. In return for their appearances in these ads, families received payment, a week’s worth of Butter Krust goods, and a copy of their family portrait.
Home of Mr. and Mrs. T.A White. The pictures for the Butter Krust advertisement were taken in their home at 111 Dorie Street, San Antonio TX 78220
Butter Krust also highlighted some of their employees in their newspaper ads. One of the most popular campaigns followed city route salesman, Mr. John Wanzo Applin, lovingly known by the community as “Breadman.” He was the first black salesman for Butter Krust, and worked for the company for 38 years.
Several promotional photos featuring Mr. Applin were printed in the San Antonio Register in 1972, which marked his 16th year working for the company. His daughters often appeared in the ads with him, along with captions that mentioned Butter Krust’s nutritious value, as well as statements about how the company valued their employees. Below are several ads that show Mr. Applin on the job and at his home as they appeared in the newspaper.
Through advertisements, Butter Krust connected to its community by showcasing families in their own home, and further building brand loyalty through featuring employees. By the 1970s Black consumers started to see more representation in marketing campaigns, and Butter Krust was one of the few companies paving the way for more inclusive advertising.
African Americans and Media Representation
Butter Krust’s decision to use African American families in their marketing materials was indicative a larger shift in media representation in the United States. Outside of black owned news outlets, companies used racist imagery to market their products. The mascot for Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes Mix is one of the most well known and most enduring examples of this kind of marketing.
As the fight for civil rights moved forward in the second half of the 20th century, companies began to take a more nuanced approach in how they marketed their products. African American marketing agencies began producing ads for major business, and the portrayals of African Americans in advertisements gradually improved.
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