Wednesday, March 25, 2009

6582: NAACP Says WTF To P&G, Et Al.

From The Big Tent at…

NAACP, MAP Target P&G, Other Marketers in Agency Diversity Fight
Letters Sent to 25 Leading National Advertisers

(Download a copy of the letter at The Big Tent)

By Ken Wheaton

The NAACP has sent a letter to Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman of the Board/CEO A.G. Lafley and 24 other marketers previously on Advertising Age’s Leading National Advertisers list asking that they “require their advertising agencies to use diverse teams in creative and account management positions.” Aside from Procter & Gamble, letters went out to AT&T, Verizon Communications, General Motors Corp., Time Warner, Ford Motor Company, GlaxoSmith Kline, Johnson & Johnson, Walt Disney Co., Unilever, Sprint Nextel Corp., General Electric Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler, Sony Corp., L’Oreal, Sears Holding Company, Kraft Foods, Bank of America, Nissan Motor Co., Macy’s, Anheuser Busch InBev, Honda Motor Co., Viacom and Berkshire. (Last month, the Association of Black-Owned Advertising Agencies sent a letter to the ANA challenging marketers on diversity.)

The letter, from NAACP Interim General Counsel Angela Ciccolo, was sent in conjunction with the Madison Avenue Project, an effort by the group and Civil Rights attorney Cyrus Mehri to bring diversity to advertising agencies either through persuasion or a law suit. Designed to open up another front in the battle and put pressure on clients, it requests that each company, “identify a senior executive to serve as a point of contact on the issue of racial bias in the advertising industry and to meet promptly with the NAACP.”

After a couple of pages of data combed from MAP’s previously released report, the letter dispenses with the niceties.

“The behavior [of the agencies] documented in the report is illegal, and we are sure that Procter & Gamble does not wish to be associated in any way with illegal behavior. The behavior documented in the report is not only illegal but also clearly out of step with the moral climate of the times, and again we are sure that Procter & Gamble would not want in any way to be so out of step with the times.”

It speaks momentarily of previous diversity efforts attempted in the agency world before declaring them ineffective. “To address the issues raised in the report, it is important Procter & Gamble understands that such responses are inadequate and, in some cases, counter-productive. That is why we wish to assist you in designing your approach to this issue. … We would like for you to instruct your advertising agencies to use diverse teams in creative and account management positions.”

The letter was released this morning at 8 a.m. ET. Ad Age will have further coverage, including response from the marketers and complete text of the letter, as the story develops.

No comments: