Can’t think of a better place to ask, “Where Are All The Black People?” than Cannes Lions 59th International Festival of Creativity.
Scrolling the list of event speakers tells the tale. Executives like Kirk McDonald and Jimmy Smith were outnumbered by celebrities including Omar Epps, Meklit Hadero, Smokey Robinson and Forest Whitaker. Finding creative Black people is no problem—provided the search doesn’t require that the Black people be actively involved in the advertising arena. (Ironically, Amusement Park Chairman/CEO/CCO Jimmy Smith is quick to point out that his enterprise is not an ad agency.) As if to underscore the abysmal lack of progress our industry has made in establishing inclusive workplaces, AMC series Mad Men’s Don Draper-Jon Hamm received more coverage than adpeople of color. Plus, the actor appeared at a cocktail party fittingly hosted by multicultural mecca mcgarrybowen.
Meanwhile, Deutsch LA held a forum on the imperative for retaining talent, which is probably code for maintaining cronyism, nepotism and various assorted isms. Deutsch Recruiter Katherine Moncrief spoke to Adweek about headhunting at Cannes without mentioning diversity once during the 3-minute interview. LatinWorks sponsored the obligatory pitch for ethnic minorities and other non-White-male segments, a presentation that rarely makes an impression with predominately White audiences. A Dentsu program with the title “Asian Diversity” wound up spotlighting Hello Kitty. Wonder if Draftfcb—the shop that promises to no longer use the term “diversity and inclusion” by 2014—included any Blacks in its dirty dozen delegates.
The premier celebration of advertising is indeed an exclusive affair.