Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Essay 4220

MultiCultClassics targeted Adcolor™ last June (see Essay 4008), but spotting the advertisement depicted above demands a fresh response.

According to the organization’s self-hype, “Adcolor™ is a collaboration between the ADVERTISING Club of New York (Ad Club NY), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), and Arnold Worldwide. This first of its kind cross-industry initiative is meant to serve as a catalyst for the next generation of diversity programs by combining the energy of the marketing, advertising, and media industries to identify current issues and opportunities around diversity. Specifically, our goals are to: Celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding diverse professionals; Leverage their stories as a road map for others to follow; Mine new data to shine a light on key challenges; Uncover new ways of spurring diversity in our collective industries.”


The first Adcolor™ project is The Adcolor Awards, designed to salute “outstanding diverse professionals at the junior, mid and senior levels in each segment of our industry.” Nominees must fall into one of five silos: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Black (Not Hispanic Origin); Hispanic; or Multi-Ethnic/Multi-Racial. Additionally, The Adcolor Awards categories include: Rising Star (less than 7 years experience); Innovator (an individual who has championed a new way of thinking); Change Agent (an individual who has played a leading role in spurring diversity within their organization); and Legend (15+ years experience). To view the complete contest legalese, surf to adcolor.org or click on the essay title above.

So who deserves the prestigious prizes to be doled out during the gala extravaganza in November?

One person who immediately comes to mind is Patricia Gatling, Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, Gatling doesn’t qualify because—per the official entry mandates—she isn’t employed in the advertising, marketing or media industry. Ditto New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook, who proclaimed Madison Avenue honchos “ran like chickens with their asses plucked clean” after they failed to attend public hearings on diversity last September.

Radio talk-show host and activist Sanford Moore warrants a nod for his numerous contributions—plus, for criticizing the industry with references to economic colonialism and slavery. His radio gig places him in the media industry slot. Then again, his harsh statements likely would not endear Moore to the judging panel.

Carmen Van Kerckhove of New Demographic has spotlighted the cause on her blogs and podcast. She may even fit a couple of the ethnic profiles. Alas, the judges could argue Van Kerckhove, like Gatling and Seabrook, is not a member of the club.

Laura Martinez Ruiz-Velasco is another contender. As the former founder and editor-in-chief of Marketing y Medios magazine, she gave the industry an honest, insightful and open view of Latino marketing. Until bloated conglomerate VNU decided to fold the publication, that is. While she continues to write for trade magazines and publish a blog, Martinez Ruiz-Velasco has temporarily lost her national soapbox, making a victory pretty challenging.

Matthew Creamer and Lisa Sanders of Advertising Age have delivered outstanding reporting on diversity issues in the past year. But they lack the color required to secure a nomination.

Steve Hall of Adrants.com has organized diversity recruitment seminars, conferences and job fairs—in addition to posting editorials on his popular blog. Sadly, he’s deficient in the pigmentation area too. Sorry, Steve.

Which leads us to The Adcolor Awards ultimate candidate: Hadji Williams.

For starters, Williams satisfies the ethnic eligibility angle.

Despite his occasional disdain for the business, Williams currently handles assignments as a consultant and freelance creative, which places him within the marketing and advertising industries. His book, blog, articles and speaking engagements position Williams in the media industry as well. He’s a veritable triple threat.

He’s too seasoned to be a Rising Star, yet too young for the Legend class. And the term Change Agent is annoying. Hence, let’s designate Williams as an Innovator.

Has Williams championed a new way of thinking on the issues of diversity in the advertising world? Hey, he rewrote the book. Literally.

“Knock The Hustle: How to Save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America” is the sole contemporary tome that tackles the complexities of our culture-based crises. Williams offers advice, inspiration, wisdom and action plans. KTH has generated positive reviews from outsiders and insiders—including Madison Avenue veteran Tom Messner. A second edition with updates and original extensions is slated to release this year. And Williams’ blog complements the book with up-to-the-minute rants. You’d be hard-pressed to match the reach and results of KTH.

Williams keeps the hits coming with printed perspectives, podcast appearances and blog comments. He remains tireless and committed to voicing opinions that others dare not touch. Granted, Williams has ruffled more feathers than Frank Perdue in his heyday. But that’s to be expected when you’re battling nearly four decades of lies and lethargy.

Over the years, Williams has acted as a college instructor, molding and influencing future adpeople. He’s also spoken to entry-level professionals in a mentoring capacity. In short, there’s not a better role model in the game.

Sure, Williams is a controversial choice for The Adcolor Awards, especially if the real intent is to forward the stereotypical, sanitized sentiments associated with diversity. Hopefully, Adcolor™ will hold true to its lofty aspirations in an advanced style. While there may be individuals orchestrating change on smaller and local planes, it’s difficult to imagine anyone who has generated greater, broader returns than Williams.

In the meantime, MultiCultClassics staffers will proceed with the entry preparations, due on August 1. Adcolor™ requests two letters of recommendation, which might call for assistance from blog visitors and associates.

Stay tuned.

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