The theme for Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We.
The advertising industry has always been driven by The Power of WE.
On Madison Avenue, however, WE stands for White Exclusivity.
The Power of WE is an openly acknowledged reality. AMC series Mad Men has glamorized the phenomenon, making it downright sexy. AMC series The Pitch also exposed the monochromatic makeup of the field.
The Power of WE has been officially documented by lawyers and more lawyers, professors and more professors, politicians, more politicians and political commissions. It’s no secret.
The Power of WE is totally obvious to White leaders in the industry. Nearly everyone has publicly confessed there is a problem. Only two modern-day honchos have ever put a deadline on delivering diversity. Omnicom President and CEO John Wren ordered his agencies to come into compliance with the pledges made to New York City’s Commission on Human Rights by the end of 2008. If it happened, no one published a congratulatory announcement. Indeed, the 2009 hiring of Tiffany R. Warren as the holding company’s Chief Diversity Officer indicates there’s still work to do and smokescreens to puff. Meanwhile, Draftfcb President and CEO Laurence Boschetto proclaimed that by 2014 his company would “be an organization that no longer uses the term ‘diversity and inclusion.’” Boschetto still has a couple of years to make it happen, but don’t plan on attending the victory party. After all, the man dubbed his crumbling shop “Agency of the Future” too.
The Power of WE is completely recognized by clients. Clients perpetuate the situation by allocating insufficient funds to multicultural marketing, failing to engage with multicultural advertising agencies or simply assigning White ad agencies to handle multicultural chores. In short, clients help to sustain the separate-but-unequal conditions. Additionally, they knowingly partner with predominately White ad agencies whose inability to embrace diversity sharply contrasts the client’s commitment to inclusion. Yet rather than demand change, clients display hypocrisy of the highest order and turn a colorblind eye.
The Power of WE is maintained via practices such as Corporate Cultural Collusion that permit White ad agencies to keep control of accounts and, well, everything else.
The Power of WE lets the ruling majority dodge responsibility by delegating diversity to resident minorities.
The Power of WE is propped up by lame excuses that lead to lame solutions which have historically not succeeded. The industry boasting creative minds and breakthrough ideas offers contrived clichés to address the issues including:
• Initiatives to reach inner-city kids
• High schools and camps
• More special programs for underserved kids
• Powerless Chief Diversity Officers and Diversity Committees
• Segregated award shows and events where folks like Dan Wieden and Tanner Colby are honored before folks like Sanford Moore, Harry Webber, Lowell Thompson and Hadji Williams
Of course, minimal thought is given to recruiting and retaining minorities beyond the age of 12—and zero suggestions involve educating White adpeople to raise their collective cultural competence.
The Power of WE will remain overpowering until the advertising industry starts abiding by the notions in a certain document that opens with, “We the People…”
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