Thursday, February 14, 2008

5121: Cultural Conversations Clichéd Characters, Part 1.

This week featured two advertising-related appearances of cultural conversations clichéd characters. To clarify, cultural conversations clichéd characters are characters that join conversations relating to cultural issues and ultimately spout clichéd perspectives. In most cases, cccc don’t realize they are assuming a stereotypical role; in fact, they tend to believe they are boldly original in their stances. It’s extra perplexing when cccc are advertising executives, because the industry prides itself on being staffed by innovative thinkers who abhor the contrived and expected.

The first cccc is McCann Erickson chairman Nina DiSesa. Technically, DiSesa’s identity hasn’t been officially verified, but someone posted online comments using her name (apologies to DiSesa if an anonymous writer hijacked her e-persona). It all started when DiSesa wrote an Adweek column hyping her new book. In the article, DiSesa pondered the progress women have made in the ad business. Next, Hadji Williams published a rebuttal—An open letter to Nina DiSesa—on his blog. Williams compared the plight of adwomen to racial and ethnic peers.

DiSesa responded in cccc fashion with these remarks: “As far as hiring women and people of color I hear you loud and clear. Everyone in the advertising business does. Diversity is a huge issue and we hire people of color all the time, we just can’t retain them. We are working on it. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because we would be better at reaching all of mankind if we had diversity in our own ranks. It’s better for business. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Putting aside the reality that DiSesa’s words look like she was cutting and pasting from a stack of diversity recruitment advertisements, there are definite cccc patterns in the statements.

“…I hear you loud and clear. Everyone in the advertising business does. … We are working on it.”


The assurances are so outrageous because DiSesa is a Madison Avenue agency chairman. It’s her professional responsibility to make sure people “are working on it.” Remember, New York City’s Commission on Human Rights is peeking over DiSesa’s shoulder. Yet whenever anyone requests evidence of the efforts, well, it’s time to go on a book tour. Try calling back in a few months. TTFN!

Madison Avenue has been hearing loud and clear and working on it for 50+ years. If the average adperson delivered a similar line to a client—and followed through by doing next to nothing—how long would the negligence be tolerated? Additionally, if a creative director constantly presented an identical concept for half a century, how long would she remain employed?

In the advertising business, slackers who repeat bad ideas are shunned, ridiculed and banished.

Unless the topic is diversity.

(Visit tomorrow to meet this week’s second cccc.)

1 comment:

HustleKnocker said...


Three cheers for the four C's in the four A's! (american association of advertising agencies)

how they do love their BS.