Wednesday, May 21, 2008

5495: Arnold Seeks To Diversify.

The story below appeared at MultiCultClassics comments immediately follow…

Arnold Hires Multicultural Marketing Chief
Osborne joins Havas shop from Novartis

By Adweek Staff

BOSTON Havas’ Arnold said it has hired Reginald Osborne as svp, group director of multicultural marketing.

Reporting to evp Jon Tracosas, he will focus mainly on the shop’s McDonald’s business. The long-range goal, per Arnold, is to create an integrated capability for diversity marketing across all agency accounts.

“I am excited to be at an agency like Arnold that believes diversity is important culturally and as a resource to better serve clients and consumers in a multi-cultural marketing and communications world,” Osborne said in a statement.

Added Fran Kelly, Arnold’s CEO: “The world we live in and market in is growing increasingly diverse. He will be an enormous asset to Arnold and to our clients.”

Osborne joins from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he most recently served as associate director of multicultural marketing. Prior to Novartis, he was at Spike DDB, where he worked on clients such as Jaguar, ExxonMobil, Foxwoods and State Farm Insurance. Other agency stops include Grey and Ted Bates.

Arnold has championed multiculturalism in the workplace. The Ad Club of Boston’s Arnold Rosoff Awards celebrating industry diversity are named for one of the agency’s founders.

The move is in keeping with industry trends, as agencies large and small have heightened their diversity efforts in the wake of continued criticism from some quarters that the ad business is too white and male-centric.

This story is unique on a few fronts.

First, it’s extraordinarily rare for Adweek to report on anything non-White. Although the byline seems to indicate it took the entire staff to figure out the brief news item.

Agency Spy’s superspy—who will soon leave that blog and probably take all interest with her—seemed perplexed over certain points. She observed, “…according to Adweek, [Osborne’s] goal will be to ‘create an integrated capability for diversity marketing across all agency accounts.’ So, what Arnold really means is they’re going to try and talk to people of color. Why they just can’t say that, I’ll never know. Never. According to Ad Age’s Report Cards, Arnold isn’t listed among the top 50 multicultural agencies in either the Hispanic, African American or Asian markets. Better get cracking, mister.”

Well, superspy, it’s unlikely Arnold will crack the top 50 anytime soon. If you closely inspect the Ad Age lists you referenced, you’ll see the overwhelming majority are minority-owned enterprises. Even the places “bought” by holding companies still keep minority-ownership status by retaining the necessary 51 percent share. This maneuver avoids upsetting clients who employ multicultural agencies to satisfy corporate diversity goals—that is, multicultural shops are viewed as minority vendors. It also means Arnold will have difficulty realizing its goals, especially if the Bostonians ever compete for business with typical multicultural shops.

Additionally, one could debate if the true objectives of diversity are being addressed when a general market agency hires minorities to focus on segregated initiatives. Or you could question why general market shops might be eligible to pursue multicultural assignments when multicultural shops are rarely allowed to pitch general market work. But those are the topics of future posts.

For now, let’s extend congratulations and best wishes to Reginald Osborne.

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