Monday, November 30, 2009

7302: The Diversity Elephant In The Room.

The current diversity-related conversations seem to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room: The Lack of Diversity on Madison Avenue.

Mickey D’s and Coca-Cola allegedly now recognize the influence of racial and ethnic cultures on our overall society (forget the fact that both brands have had minority advertising agencies informing them on such matters since at least the 1970s). The mega-clients even promise to increase the efforts targeting minority audiences and seed culture-based insights into everything they do. Yet there are zero indications that minority shops will receive greater billings—or be considered for AOR roles.

Kraft and Procter & Gamble push from another direction, gushing over the imperative for and benefits of embracing supplier diversity. However, the mega-clients do not question the diversity of its suppliers on Madison Avenue.

Draftfcb actually had the audacity to jump on the supplier diversity bandwagon. Critics were quick to point out that clients mandated many of the Draftfcb initiatives (is it a coincidence the Draftfcb Advertising Week extravaganza co-starred Kraft?). Also, Draftfcb has a pretty sorry track record when it comes to creating culturally clueless, insensitive and offensive advertising. Oops.

Missed in all the newfound excitement surrounding diversity is an honest inspection of the historic exclusivity at White advertising agencies.

Why are clients so reluctant to openly address the real problem? Don’t they realize the ridiculous nature of their recent perspectives and pontifications?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the revelation on cultural influences be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be common knowledge?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the request for supplier diversity be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be common practice?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the ANA and 4As drafting The Army be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be a volunteer militia?

It’s bad enough that everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s worse that clients are treating the beast like a White elephant.

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