NewsOne reminds and remembers the truth about Memorial Day.
Advertising Age published an interview with 600 & Rising Co-Founder Bennett D. Bennett on the state of affairs at the organization. To recap, the group launched in revolutionary style with an open letter to Adland in 2020, demanding an end to the systemic racism plaguing the field. The movement was derailed when Co-Founder Nathan Young resigned following backlash from a Twitter critique of ADCOLOR® as being a heat shield. Based on the interview, 600 & Rising is not exactly on the rise after roughly 600 days, still strategizing to define a vision and action plan. When asked to share his hope for 600 & Rising, Bennett remarked, “I can only hope for grace to those who want to give it for me and the organization. There needs to be a lot of egos shed to make this work.” Um, to ultimately realize success, a lot of culturally clueless White “leaders” need to be shed too.
600 & Rising’s Bennett D. Bennett on the future of the organization
One year since the nonprofit called for the end of systemic racism on Madison Avenue, its co-founder reveals what’s next
By Jeanine Poggi
600 & Rising made waves in June 2020 when Black agency executives, led by Nathan Young and Bennett D. Bennett, came together to challenge Madison Avenue to end systemic racism. The nonprofit was quickly backed by industry trade body the 4A’s and moved to take the pulse of the industry and formulate a standard for agency diversity data reporting.
Just two months later, Young stepped down from the organization and the group announced a plan to dissolve its structure. At the time the nonprofit said it 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.”
Not much has been heard about the group since then, but Bennett has continued to work on reframing the organization. He sat down with Ad Age to discuss the progress and what’s next for 600 & Rising. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Where is 600 & Rising at this point?
Starting over feels like a weird term, but it is a bit of a refresh for us as an organization. When my co-founder departed in July, there was a lot of mending fences, ensuring the organization could remain stable. I moved on with what I believe is still a good-enough mission to stick around.
What is that mission now?
I feel like I have an opportunity to just do the work. I needed to reframe how I was looking at my role within this organization. I have done as much as I can, but I am not the future of the industry. I shifted my mindset. It is a weird and interesting burden; I don’t think any Black person wants to have to scream out at the top of their lungs. But I started looking at this opportunity as a ‘thank you’ to everybody who allowed me to get to this point.
I was raised by more DE&I people than creative directors. I never had the proper opportunity to have that guidance when I was on the agency side. I had to do so much on my own. They gave me a chance to say, ‘I should still be in this industry and fight my way to be a creative professional.’ I feel I owe them that because this burden has been theirs to carry for a very long time. 600 is about Black talent first. We want to advocate for them and their best interest. We want to elevate them to their fullest potential. Wherever talented Black voices we want to make sure we support that.
When you lose focus on what brought you here, messes happen, and we have seen messes happen. If Black talent feels dissatisfied at their agency or are being harassed, we are still an organization you can come to and say, ‘this is a terrible work environment,’ and we will figure out how to help them. I don’t want to say 600 isn’t here for the ad agencies; it was born out of agency people, but it doesn’t tell the full picture of Black talent.
What has the process of rebuilding been like?
I was in my parents’ guest room at a desk for 13 to 14 months. I don’t want to say it was the easiest thing to reach back to partners like 4A’s after we made a splashy announcement with them; they were very hurt. We had those conversations as soon as we could because we recognize the mission was more important than who was running it.
There is no lighthouse for Black talent in the industry or companies who feel they may not have made inroads with the Black community in the way they should. This is mostly an infrastructure problem. No. 1 issue is wage equity. Agencies are starting to acknowledge that and restructure what salary bands look like. We want to empower Black talent on how to have those conversations with their agencies, make sure they have the receipts so to speak when it comes time for annual reviews, understand what it means to be more financially empowered. We are some of the most savvy people in business; we are people who influence the stock market, but we aren’t in touch with our ability to understand what a financial plan looks like for us when we are moving to a new market or taking a new job. We are holding fire to agencies to make sure they close the wage gap and work with partners that have engaged with us on wage equity.
We have been developing a study to use anonymous self-reported data to get the benchmarks for Black talent at this point. The equity study we are building out will show what the picture is looking like for Black talent for compensation, not just on the agency side. We are working with partners like We Are Rosie to address the freelance market. We are hoping to get at least this stuff out by June. The biggest Juneteenth goal is watching to see what agencies have to say about representation
One of the primary goals of 600 & Rising when it launched was to hold the industry accountable. Whose responsibility do you think that is now?
Anyone who has some sort of financial stake in the industry is responsible: activist shareholders, brands and also talent. For every executive who has said diversity is everybody’s business, I want to call bullshit, because it is put upon the DE&I leads.
What do you think of how the industry has responded to the Black Lives Matter movement over the past year?
It is very clearly a mixed bag. I always knew one year would be too soon for people to feel fully satisfied. The fact that Black talent feel comfortable telling us, ‘The agency I work for says it will support this creative idea and I feel empowered.’ Then on the other hand we do this wage equity survey and agencies put out numbers and again we will also hear from talent who are dissatisfied. I don’t think anyone who is Black in this industry feels like what has happened over the past year has been enough. There are people who have gotten promoted over the past year and they are getting their voice heard; and then there are agency layoffs.
What do you hope to see a year from now?
A year from now I want people to really, really, really appreciate the need for outside voices for good. I want the sentiment from Black Americans and Black people who watch advertising content to come with a sense of pride. There is so much breakthrough work that can be created when you allow voices to come in and do the work; I want us to be part of that. It has to be about consumers. It is a service industry, and we haven’t been treating it like a service industry at all.
What do you hope for 600 & Rising?
I can only hope for grace to those who want to give it for me and the organization. There needs to be a lot of egos shed to make this work.
MediaPost reported on the latest ANA study showing Black-owned vendors are still minorities in advertisers’ “supplier diversity” efforts—ie, the crumbs are not increasing. However, advertisers professed intentions to spend more with Blacks in the near future. Of course they did. Meanwhile, women-owned businesses—ie, White women—were still the overwhelming majority that benefited from “supplier diversity” efforts. Of course they did. ANA, incidentally, has annually conducted studies to uncover the same discriminatory data for over a decade—and will likely continue to do so with no success at affecting change. Of course they will.
ANA: Black-Owned Suppliers Still Are The Minority Of Ad Industry’s Diversity Mix
By Joe Mandese
When it comes to “diversity” spending by the nation’s biggest advertisers, Black-owned suppliers are definitely still a minority, according to findings of a just-released study by the Association of National Advertisers.
The study, the basis of the ANA’s “The Growth of Supplier Diversity” report, found Black-owned businesses account for only 10% of the suppliers receiving “most” of their spending, ranking behind women-owned businesses (accounting for 62% of diversity supplier spending), Hispanic-owned (11%) and small businesses (11%).
While Blacks account for more than 13% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census, the ANA report notes they account for only 2.2% of U.S. business owners.
While Black-owned businesses lag among the ad industry’s top diversity suppliers, the ANA survey also projects they are poised to be the biggest beneficiaries in the near future (see below).
According to respondents, agencies account for the greatest number of diversity suppliers in their mix, followed by production companies, consultants, printing, research, media suppliers, promotion firms and auditors.
Dentsu Aegis Network Global CEO Wendy Clark repeatedly used Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to stage her patronizing pontifications on diversity. Yet when Cannes Lions’ diversity dilemmas were displayed, Clark didn’t make a peep. Keep in mind, Clark’s divertsity drivel—including involvement with the Glass Lion and TIME’S UP/Advertising—was delivered before knowingly hiring an accused sexual harasser. So, her deceptive dumbness is doubly disgusting. Ditto her lack of integrity.
Back in 2017, Sir Martin Sorrell pressured Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to streamline its festivities as a cost-cutting measure. Yet when Cannes Lions’ diversity deficits were revealed, Sorrell made no demands to streamline the exclusivity and execute Caucasian-cutting measures.
When Publicis Groupe needed to finance the production of Marcel, they instituted a year-long ban on awards—effectively nixing engagement with Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Yet when Cannes Lions’ diversity issues were exposed, the oh-so-progressive White holding company responded with mime-like silence.
One more thought regarding the Cannes Lions diversity debacle. To protest the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s cultural cluelessness, Scarlett Johansson urged the entertainment community to step back from HFPA-sponsored events. Plus, Tom Cruise criticized the organization’s lack of diversity by returning his three Golden Globe Awards. Will any Adland pseudo leaders speak out—or issue memos—to condemn the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity? Better yet, will anyone—especially the White advertising agencies behind award-nabbing “multicultural” campaigns—return their shiny baubles? If there were trophies for hypocritical liars, the list of winners would be quite extensive.
Advertising Age reported Byron Allen has set his sights on Mickey D’s—via a super-sized $10 billion discrimination lawsuit. Allen clearly thinks McDonald’s is your kind of place…if you’re White. But Allen doesn’t think Mickey D’s deserves a break today, accusing the fast feeder of food, folks and fun—as well as systemic racism. Hey, when it comes to serving up crumbs, nobody can do it like McDonald’s can—and it’s a good time for the great taste of justice. So the media mogul’s crusade for fairness and equity from major corporations has led to asking, “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” Because when Allen considered how Mickey D’s has perpetuated cronyism and exclusivity over the years, he likely found it impossible to say, “I’m lovin’ it!”
McDonald’s Hit With $10 Billion Discrimination Suit From Byron Allen
Media mogul alleges McDonald’s intentionally discriminated against his companies
McDonald’s is being sued by media mogul Byron Allen’s company over racial discrimination. According to the lawsuit, Allen is seeking $10 billion in damages for racial discrimination, alleging it intentionally discriminated against his company Entertainment Studios and Weather Group through “a pattern of racial stereotyping and refusals to contract.”
The civil rights lawsuit was filed just hours after it is taking various steps to more than double its U.S. media spending with Black-owned media and production properties.
Allen claims African Americans represent about 40% of fast food customers, with McDonald’s taking billions of dollars each year from African American consumers. “But of its approximately $1.6 billion annual television advertising budget, McDonald’s spends less than approximately $5 million each year on African American-owned media, and it has refused to advertise on Entertainment Studios networks or The Weather Channel since Allen acquired the network in 2018,” according to the suit.
At the heart of the issue, per the suit, is McDonald’s “tiered advertising structure that differentiates on the basis of race.” Most of McDonald’s advertising budget goes to its “general market” tier, while its “African American” tier constitutes a “much smaller budget and less-favorable pricing and other terms,” according to the suit. Allen claims that by McDonald’s working with a separate ad agency — Burrell Communications — for the African American tier, it creates “separate and unequal tracks for Black-owned media companies to earn advertising revenue.” Entertainment Studios has been relegated to the African American tier, even though it operates TV networks that have general market appeal and do not specifically target African American audiences, because the company is owned by Allen, according to the suit.
“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the U.S. economy,” Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, said in a statement. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity. The economic exclusion must stop immediately.”
Early today, the world’s largest restaurant company unveiled a push to more than double its U.S. investment in diverse-owned media companies, production shops and content creators by 2024. Over the next four years, it plans to increase its U.S. advertising spending with platforms owned by Black, Hispanic, Asian American, female and LGBTQ people from 4% to 10%, with support from its U.S. franchisees.
“Together with our Owner/Operators we have doubled down on our relationships with diverse-owned partners,” McDonald’s said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “This includes increasing our spend with diverse-owned media from 4% to 10% and with Black-owned media from 2%-5% of total national advertising over the next four years. Once we receive the complaint, we will review and respond accordingly.”
Allen, along with other Black-owned media execs, has been vocal about calling on Madison Avenue to invest at least 2% of their ad budgets in Black-owned media.
Allen and five other leaders at major Black-owned media companies also penned an open letter to McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski asking him “to stop the systemic racism by McDonald’s against Black-owned media companies.” They said McDonald’s should commit 5% to 15% of its advertising and marketing spending to Black-owned media and requested a one-hour Zoom meeting with the CEO and several of its key board members.
“Chris, we and others firmly believe that if you continue to hold the position that Black-owned media does not deserve meaningful economic inclusion and we are not worth meeting with, then you and your board should resign, effective immediately,” they wrote.
General Motors pledged last month to spend 4% of its U.S. advertising spend on Black-owned media by next year and would boost that to 8% by 2023 after the automaker was called out by Allen and the other executives for refusing to meet with the group.
The suit, Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. and Weather Group LLC vs. McDonald’s Corp., was filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
This PETA campaign from China is explained as follows:
Every year, countless animals are injured or killed due to online animal shopping in China. Being aware of this problem, PETA would like to call on actions, hoping people could stop shopping for animals online to protect animals.
We chose 3 types of animals that was frequently bought online, and created a surreal rescue scene of unboxing. The moment the package is opened, it seems to be at the scene of a terrible disaster. After a long transit of tortures, the animal is full of blood and wounds, unconscious and desperate. The buyer has to become a rescue team, rushing to save the dying animal. As for the disaster settings, we used the same dramatic way by putting a real catastrophe setting inside different shipping box, and turning the buyer into a rescue team, which largely strengthened the tense atmosphere of rescue.