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1948: Jax Beer airs one of the first African American television commercials

Vann Graves, chief creative officer and chief executive officer, FL+G

In 1956, Jax Beer, one of the last breweries built before prohibition, closed its doors. It was the first company to sell a six-pack, but in 1948 did something even more extraordinary when it created a commercial called ‘Whistle Up A Party’.

Now, that in and of itself was nothing amazing since seven years prior, on July 1, 1941, the Bulova Watch Company broadcasted the first television commercial in the United States. The 20-second Bulova commercial aired on WNBT, the New York City NBC affiliate, before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.

So, while the Jax Beer spot was not the first, what made ‘Whistle Up A Party’ a truly monumental marketing moment was the fact it was one of first African American television commercials.

Though most have probably never heard of the product, let alone the commercial, it helped pave the way for how marketing and advertising can influence perception and acceptance.

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