American Ad Agencies Need to Embrace Diversity


American ad agencies are bringing new faces to the table.U.S. ad agencies, known for using sexism and racism to a fault, may soon change their ways. And yes, it’s all because of money.

Ad agencies began to take hiring diversity seriously when General Mills, HP Inc., and most recently, Verizon, began to put the screws to them two months ago.

The three mega-companies told their marketing clients that if hiring habits weren’t changed, the businesses would take work elsewhere.

Kind of gross, but at least General Mills, HP Inc., and Verizon recognize that diverse groups of people come up with more diverse messages.

“Diego Scotti, chief marketing officer for Verizon, sent letters to 11 of the agencies the company works with on Sept. 16, describing diversity as ‘an explicit business objective,’” The New York Times reports.

“He gave the firms a month to submit details on how many women and minorities they employed across different roles and in senior leadership and asked for action plans describing how they would increase those numbers in the future.”

“Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers,” Scotti adds.

“We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our work force and suppliers represent the communities we serve.”

The demands

General Mills made news in early August when the company publicly declared it wanted its creative departments to staff 50 percent female and 20 percent minority staff.

Yeah, those demands don’t seem all that great, but they do shine a spotlight on how white and male most ad agencies are.

Agencies are already in trouble

“In the last year, the chief executive of the J. Walter Thompson agency resigned after a lawsuit accused him of racist and sexist behavior, and dismissive remarks about gender equality were made by other top industry executives,” The Times reports.

To help mitigate those accusations, Ad Week planned a series of presentations during its annual industry event to help ad agencies “get it.”

For example, conference attendees could attend the following talks:

“Our Challenge to Erase Gender Stereotypes In Ads”

“Sexism in Advertising and What Brands Should Do”

Quaint.

Well, at this point, we’ll take change where ever we can get it—even if that change seems dated.

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Abbie Stutzer