Adweek.com published a fluff piece titled, “Investing in Talent Is as Vital as Ever,” detailing the efforts of Madison Avenue shops to recruit and retain employees via training programs. Of course, there’s zero mention of diversity in the story. Reading between the lines of the first two paragraphs reveals a lot:
In response to massive changes in the ways by which marketers reach consumers, as well as the ongoing cry from chief marketing officers for better integration, some agencies are revamping their training programs. In some cases, the new courses involve tackling actual client briefs.
Agency leaders say the changes are key to attracting and retaining prime talent. And although some shops are cutting staff and other expenses this year amid client spending shifts and declines, a look at a random sample of seven agencies from four holding companies revealed that most are increasing their investments in training. WPP Group’s Grey, for example, spent more than $3 million on global and local efforts last year.
First of all, “the ongoing cry from chief marketing officers for better integration” is a bunch of bullshit. Most CMOs continue to distribute the budgets—and the work—across multiple, unrelated agencies. The clients hold the integration levers, not the adfolks.
But more importantly, Madison Avenue shops have done about as well with professional integration as cultural integration. That is, they completely suck at it. The silos and barriers keeping the industry predominately White are remarkably similar to the silos and barriers keeping the industry professionally segregated—and both sets are fueled by arrogance and ignorance.
Also disturbing are the Madison Avenue executives who constantly whine about an alleged lack of qualified minority candidates whenever the issue of diversity arises. Does this story not clearly admit that even the majority of people currently inhabiting agencies are no longer qualified to meet the demands of a new world? Fortunately, Madison Avenue has a history of taking care of its own. The unqualified White folks will receive extra schooling to keep them ahead of the unqualified minorities.
Finally, it’s worth noting that one of the biggest proponents for training is Omnicom. Let’s hope they fare better in their tutorial programs than their diversity programs. Then again, let’s not.