At The Big Tent, Pepper Miller presented a column on the #InTheBlack campaign. The allegedly revolutionary initiative combines the collective efforts of over two dozen Black media firms and advertising agencies to hype the wonders of targeting Black consumers. But the most surprising part of Miller’s piece involved a reference to a 2009 incident:
In 2009, a small group of black agencies formed The Association of Black Owned Advertising Agencies. Eugene Morris and Howard Buford, president and vice president respectively, of the association, wrote an open letter in [The Big Tent] to announce their organization and “request a meeting with senior leadership of the ANA in order to open a substantive dialogue about how to bring black-owned agencies into the mainstream.”
We’ve not heard from them since.*
The last line of Miller’s paragraph was crossed out and tagged with an asterisk when Advertising Age editors revealed the ANA and ABAA had exchanged emails after the perspective/plea was published. While the original communication was an open letter, the Internet intercourse appears to be a private and closed conversation. Sources indicated the two parties exchanged pleasantries—which clearly didn’t help Morris, as his agency is seriously struggling to stay afloat.
MultiCultClassics has already questioned why the ABAA bothered reaching out to the ANA in the first place. Hell, the client group has publicly admitted its members dedicate insufficient funding, inadequate commitment and inferior performance measurement resources to multicultural marketing. In fact, according to the ANA, the majority of advertisers do not engage minority shops at all. Rather, ANA officials prefer to fund ADCOLOR® while they build armies of diversity defenders who ultimately go AWOL—or shoot bizarre videos of themselves. Confronting Black advertising executives will always be trumped by chores such as defending Big Tobacco or self-regulation for online advertising.
ANA cardholders call themselves Masters of Marketing. They seem to enjoy playing the role of master with multicultural marketing too.
To bring this post full circle, if the #InTheBlack campaign hopes to succeed, it will have to attack entities like the ANA. GlobalHue CEO and Chairman Don Coleman said, “It’s getting to the point of ridiculousness in terms of the budget allocated to the African-American audience.” Forget showing the obligatory pie charts displaying Black consumer spending power. Rather, expose the lack of spending ANA members have done with the segment—and the paltry budgetary pie crumbs they’ve served to Black ad agencies.