Advertising Age reported Nathan Young, former co-founder of 600 & Rising, is now former group strategy director of Periscope—plus, Young remarked, “I had to step down from everything and I’m honestly not sure I’m going to come back to advertising.” While it will surely be lost on the ADCOLOR® fanatics, Young’s statement represents the ultimate irony. That is, a true champion of diversity in adland has chosen to remove himself from the underrepresented, effectively lowering Periscope’s EEO-1 data and leaving a hole in the global community. At a time when Young should be inundated with offers from White advertising agencies desperately seeking to create an illusion of inclusion, the industry loses an allegedly-ever-elusive qualified minority. Meanwhile, the bland plays on, composed of a minority membership completely divorced from reality that sells the story that progress is being made on diversity in advertising and buys cover for holding companies.
Bonus irony: 600 & Rising is now reassessing its strategy without a strategy director at the helm.
Nathan Young Resigns From Periscope, ‘Not Certain’ He’ll Return To Advertising
By Lindsay Rittenhouse
Nathan Young, the former president of the 600 & Rising organization he founded alongside Bennett D. Bennett to tackle systemic racism in the advertising industry, tells Ad Age he also quietly resigned from his role as group strategy director of Minneapolis agency Periscope.
“I had to step down from everything and I’m honestly not sure I’m going to come back to advertising,” Young says.
Periscope confirmed Young’s departure in a statement.
“We are grateful for the work Nathan has done with our team and wish him well as he takes some time to focus on his family and his future,” a Periscope spokesperson wrote. “Nathan helped to push the industry—and our own agency—to have important and often difficult conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion. Those conversations are not over. Periscope and Quad continue on our journey to invest in and remain committed to our DEI efforts. We say goodbye to Nathan with sincere thanks for his contributions to this journey and best wishes for his future.”
Young announced his resignation from 600 & Rising on Twitter earlier this month, noting how “Splitting time between my day job and this movement in the middle of a pandemic has placed enormous stress on both me and my family.” Young tells Ad Age he quietly stepped down from Periscope that same day, for the same reasons.
He says he “could not be more grateful for the support Periscope has shown me and continues to show me with my departure.”
“Periscope is home to some of the most brilliant, brave and kind talent I’ve ever encountered in the industry,” Young says. “Together we overcame an incredible number of obstacles and it saddens me that we won’t be able to finish what we started together.”
He says he is currently prioritizing his family. “That’s the only thing that matters to me right now.”
Young’s departure from 600 & Rising came after he tweeted criticism about the ADCOLOR awards, the advertising fete that has long celebrated the achievements of diverse industry professionals as well as work that has promoted diversity and inclusion.
“@ADCOLOR is an awards ceremony completely divorced from reality that sells the story that progress is being made on diversity in advertising and buys cover for holding companies,” Young wrote.
600 & Rising said at the time of Young’s resignation that it was dissolving its current structure and would be “taking the next 30 days to reassess, with the intent that 600 & Rising becomes an advocacy community led by the signatories—Black talent and non-Black allies—that works for the interests and with the input of all involved, moving forward.”
Young says that he since “regrets” that tweet and notes that “there needs to be more collaboration and less competition to tackle the “enormous” issue of racism in the industry.
He had served as a group strategy director for Periscope since March. Young previously was a managing director for Aux Creative in Seattle, Washington. He’s also held stints at other Seattle-area agencies including Crown, Tencount and Creature.
In July, Young led an agency walkout at Periscope to protest parent company Quad/Graphics’ actions regarding social justice. The company had acquired Periscope for $132 million in 2019. The complaint which Young and his colleagues had launched against Quad centered largely around what he says was the company’s aversion to using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in messages addressing the current unrest.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Periscope.
Kudos to Nathan Young for pulling the covers off of ADCOLOR. In 2006 Omnicom and the other holding cos were facing subpoenas from Commissioner Gatling of the Human Rights Comm during AD Week and hearings by the NYC Council. Omnicom did not have a SR Black exec to send to the Council hearing, so they retained a diversity stand-in which led to their hiring Tiffany Warren as Chief Diversity Officer. Assuming that position, rather than researching and recruiting Sr. Black ad professionals, she dived into resurrecting an idea from the 1970's originally created by Gene Jackson, the CEO of National Black Radio. The CEBA Awards became the main feature of Mad Ave's tap dance regarding the recognition of Black Creative talent. So ADCOLOR should be paying royalties to the shareholders of National Black Network which met it's demise at the hands of the "relining" policies and practices which became the hallmark of Mad Ave's marginalization of Black owned media vehicles. So ADColor is not even an original idea but a party to sugarcoat the insidious appropriation of Black culture, talent and style. We get a party while White creatives get reputational currency and shares of Omnicom, WPP et al. So honor to you Nathan Young for being a better man, ADCOLOR should give you the Diversity Award and an office down the hall from Tiffany.
I'm guessing the high paid diversity consultants at the holding companies got irked?
It's easier to gang up on the one person calling them out for more than a decade of inaction than to actually institute change of any kind, but hey. It's understandable.
Those holding company level heatshields have high salaries to maintain, the employers paying those salaries have a veneer of caring about diversity to uphold, and someone pointing out that Adcolor is all for show and has zero real success stats to back it up is mighty inconvenient for that particularly flimsy house of cards.
I’m chiming in here because I’m one of many POC in the ad industry who reached out to ADCOLOR through the years to see how I could get involved, and got radio silence in return because I wasn’t a part of Omnicom. There are a lot of us, all with the same story, which we only started swapping once Nathan started talking.
So from personal experience when I think of ADCOLOR I think of a bunch of diversity pencil pushers from New York parachuting into whatever city they most want to vacation in on Omnicom’s dime, hobnobbing in fancy hotels with celebrities they give awards to just so the can hang out and get pictures with them, then returning to New York to do nothing measurable about diversity except plan next year’s vacation and celebrity photo op.
ADCOLOR could have made some diversity progress a dozen years ago but nope, it was more important to get giggly starstruck photos next to Bill Cosby, and professional tennis players who had zero to do with the advertising industry.
Oh, and get truly racist white admen and women on stage to collect diversity awards they did not earn, but that allowed them to scrub their reputation clean with their ADCOLOR Award Get Out Of Racism Jail Free pass in hand.
If you think ADCOLOR really intended to move the needle in favor of diversifying the advertising industry, please take a few minutes from your day and google "Tiffany Warren House New York Times."
From the private hairstylist to the Sunday brunch at the Mandarin Oriental, the article makes clear how little she and her ilk are looking to change anything.
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