Monday, October 23, 2006
Marc Brownstein is back and blogging (see Essay 1222). The following appeared at AdAge.com…
What Our Agency is Doing About the Diversity Hiring
Organizing a School Road Show and Underwriting a Scholarship
Well, I think I now know what one of the most contentious issues in the advertising business is. My post on diversity certainly stirred debate. I received a record number of emails, voicemails and responses online. If I offended some of you, I apologize; that was not my intention. I did intend to move the dialogue forward about this sensitive topic -- something that’s always going to be difficult, given the fact I’m a white male.
Reactions poured in: “You’re either a genius or a crackpot;” “I want to scream;” and “You’re dead on about television’s influence on diversity recruiting… and no one wants to admit it.” Regardless, I want to use this week’s content to propose actionable solutions.
Last week, I discussed the need for more awareness within the advertising industry, and that agencies -- either individually or collectively -- target schools whose student body is primarily of color. We should create a presentation highlighting what our industry is all about; we’re good at dog-and-pony shows, so let’s bring one to the kids. Help them understand where TV commercials are created, web sites are designed and coded, reputations are managed via public relations campaigns, direct mail waves are planned and launched. I still believe a pitch to kids is the right idea, and will inspire a new generation to consider entering our industry.
To put substance behind my words, my agency is going to create such a road show, and bring it to middle and upper schools in our Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware region. I hope it will encourage some students to apply for an internship at our agency, or one of the many agencies in our community. I also hope it will shed light on career opportunities in the marketing field. We’re going to start right away by lining-up the schools, and I plan to report back to you the results of our “campaign.”
In addition, Brownstein Group is going to underwrite a scholarship for students of color who show promise in our industry. While this is still in the early stages of planning, and we do not have all of the details worked out, our goal is to provide an incentive for minority students to excel in the language or graphic arts, as well as for aspiring strategic planners, account executives, and interactive professionals.
I’m excited about putting action behind these ideas. I’m a gut guy, and have little patience for personally galvanizing an industry to make a difference. But the good thing about running your own agency is that if you think it, you can do it. It’d be pretty cool if we landed an intern from one of the schools we visited. Or, better yet, hired some of the students down the road.