Thursday, March 26, 2009
6585: NAACP MAP Recap.
The NAACP letter to advertisers inspired a range of responses around the Web. The Big Tent collected a few noteworthy comments, including folks questioning the courage of Black-owned agencies. In contrast, Agency Spy wondered why Black-owned agencies still get dissed. The event provided Adweek with a rare chance to report on a non-White topic—and ignited another thread that demonstrates many Adweek readers are ignorant morons. Jim Edwards at BNET predicted lots of meetings and little progress. While Danny G at AdPulp opined clients are blind to the people actually servicing their accounts. Kiss My Black Ads capped things off with a visual tribute to the correspondence.
You almost feel sorry for the clients. In February, the Association of National Advertisers received a request from the Association of Black-Owned Advertising Agencies for a meeting to talk about unfair business practices. Now the NAACP and Cyrus Mehri are demanding a powwow to discuss discrimination on Madison Avenue. At this point, advertisers are probably flinching every time they open the mailbox. Maybe they can just hold a joint conference call with all the unhappy parties.
Then again, no one should be surprised. The NAACP and Mehri announced their intentions to connect with advertisers last January. Everything is running on schedule. Too bad it conflicted with the recent celebrations over being named among the Top 50 Companies for Diversity® and the Top Ten Companies for Recruitment & Retention.
The NAACP and Mehri have stated relationships with multicultural agencies are irrelevant to the issue at hand. It’s time for advertisers to make their true feelings known—and back up the proclamations in their equal opportunity mantras and diversity advertisements. Or expose themselves as co-conspirators in the discrimination.
Given the state of the economy, advertisers cannot risk a possible consumer backlash or boycott. Diversity makes good business sense in more ways than ever.
Ultimately, this is on the advertising agencies. Will they allow their clients to take the heat for decades of industry inaction? Or will they step up and do the right thing the right way—and right now? Stay tuned.
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None of that will change unless clients demand it. without real face-to-face relationship with clients, your career will go nowhere.
Ad agencies are perfectly happy with that status quo, with 2 blacks as interns and entry levelers out of staff of 300.The ball is in the marketer's court. They need to ask--and demand--to meet the very people who do the work.
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