Thursday, April 30, 2009
6697: 4As Leadership Conference Musings.
There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
Initial reports from the 4As 2009 Leadership Conference inspire classic lyrics by Buffalo Springfield. But it’s too early to tell if we’re dealing with buffalo or bull.
The topic of diversity surfaced in at least four areas:
• The Marcus Graham Project and Diversity in Media made a presentation titled, “Under The Influence: The New Reality in the Future of Advertising.” Not sure what it was about, but Kenji Summers might offer details eventually.
• A hiring and inclusion panel discussion allowed Omnicom Chief Diversity Officer Tiffany R. Warren and others to deliver the standard insights and suggestions. It’s amazing that such basic notions must be repeated again and again. Or maybe not, as cultural cluelessness is rooted in ignorance.
• 4As President and CEO Nancy Hill addressed diversity in her speech, hyping MAIP and Howard University’s Center for Excellence in Advertising. Yet she still acknowledged the persistent “dearth of African Americans in middle and senior ranks.” Hill seems committed to seeking solutions. Will she succeed in finding any before Cyrus Mehri forces the issue? The President and CEO announced the organization will now be known as the 4As. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to become the 6As—with the addition of AAs (African Americans, for the slow readers among us).
• Industry icon Dan Wieden, perhaps motivated by Eric Holder, bravely challenged the entire assembly to get its act together regarding diversity. Ironically, Wieden is not an official 4As member. Plus, his big idea involved launching youth outreach programs, which is among the most expected and contrived answers. Give Wieden kudos for his openness and honesty. It’s just that the global dilemma demands greater, breakthrough thinking.
Talk and good intentions are always plentiful at exclusive conferences. However, as demonstrated during last week’s Diversity in Advertising Career Day, the ultimate actions don’t support the grandiose visions.
If Hill truly hopes to execute an extreme makeover on the advertising industry’s sorry reputation and propel us through the 21st century, let’s focus on the problem that has remained unresolved since the early 20th century.
P.S. This post was quickly assembled, so forgive any sloppiness or errors. Retractions and revisions will be published if necessary.