MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.
Advertising Week XII inadvertently spotlighted the diversity dilemma that has plagued Madison Avenue and beyond since, well, forever.
This year’s New York soiree actually featured a Diversity & Inclusion Track, presenting a pile of patronizing pap that did little to legitimately further and/or foster diversity and inclusion. Additionally, there was a separate Talent Track. Leave it to the advertising industry to decide Diversity & Inclusion and Talent should be segregated endeavors.
The Diversity & Inclusion Track opened with the following promotional copy:
Diversity & Inclusion
In the midst of the biggest effort in history to introduce comprehensive civil rights to the LGBTQ community, the media storm continues to swirl around national diversity challenges. Caitlyn Jenner has fueled much of the attention as of late, providing a high profile face to the debate around acceptance. Brands and advertisers still face biases in planning and executing media campaigns yet the buying power continues to grow in minority and historically excluded groups. The Inclusion of targeting and segmenting meaningful content to truly diverse audiences based on their consumer behavior and exclusive of their lifestyle choices, ethnicity or background is the recipe brands need to experiment with to optimize ROI. As the awareness and controversies rise in the media and progress is made and lost on various fronts, it is certain to be a passionate time in our history.
Only a handful of advertisers in the scheme of things have shown boldness in their work to understand, reach and service diverse audiences. Which brands are striving to understand and embrace diversity? What brave and bold campaigns will we see arrive on the scene? How will advertisers balance the perceived risks of polarizing audiences?
The diversity and inclusion track at advertising week is certain to provide insights into some of the biggest questions of our time.
Notice how the above bullshit makes zero mention of the biggest question of our time: Why are the staffs at most advertising agencies still predominately White?
Instead, the Diversity & Inclusion Track included: a single, obligatory panel discussing diversity of talent; a couple of LGBT events; an examination of media targeting women; the rise of diverse non-network shows; an autobiographical share with Lin-Manuel Miranda; an Emilio and Gloria Estefan self-promotional tour stop; a peek at Broadway Video’s Latino Network; a hand-wringing session on the Whiteness and maleness of the digital arena, and; a conversation on “the power of inclusiveness” in storytelling.
Hell, the most noteworthy diversity-related happening was the Here Are All The Black People incident—and The One Club program wasn’t even a part of Advertising Week XII.
Remember when Advertising Week served as the perfect stage to call out and condemn the dearth of diversity? Where are Cyrus Mehri, Patricia Gatling and the NYC Commission on Human Rights and John Liu? Why isn’t anyone demanding that Madison Avenue agencies publicly reveal the alleged progress?
Advertising Week XII put the “x” in exclusivity.
All our industry is doing is the bare minimum necessary to not get sued. They lean on anemic events like these whenever anybody runs the racism flag up the pole, and wave it even harder when the holding company's annual reports come out.
"WPP/Omnicom/Publicis/Insert Holding Company Here is a proud supporter of Advertising Week's Diversity & Inclusion events," blah blah blah.
Years ago, diversity events at Advertising Week were occasionally opportunities for hearty back and forth debate. There was actually talk of diversity, loudly, with contrasting voices.
Now we have bland and polite discussions of "the importance of diversity of thought" instead, and pretend that it's a substitute for talking about the obvious: THERE'S ABOUT 1 BLACK PERSON PER EVERY 99 ATTENDING AD WEEK.
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