Who is to blame? The brands who try but fail miserably? Or the agencies they hire to create their ads? #askingforafriend

October 11, 2017

Now that the "racist" talk has died down let's look at who is at fault. Advertising agency and brand-side diversity leadership issues will continue to


be exposed until they get smart about portraying -- inside the walls -- what they want to communicate outside of them. Yes, Dove has been a brand that has advocated positive body images for women and girls, they have had moving ads cast with very diverse talent, and in general have done a decent job of “representing” inclusion and diversity in the advertising space.


Every now and then brands who focus on diversity, and more often those who don’t, make the awful mistake of not “temperature checking” ads in-house with any POC. Anyone of any ethnicity, other that caucasian, would have caught the issue with this ad. (My apology, there are many in my timeline who are white and were offended with this ad.) Even more responsibility and measures were required when Dove planned to promote the snippet of the full video on social media. That screenshot is now viral.


In my recent post on Cosmetic Diversity, I referenced the two large ad agencies I worked at who each had less than 20 AA employees at the Dallas HQ in the company of over 700, and in one of the largest offices (Dallas), respectfully. I am confused why ad agencies don’t build and nurture culture departments in house? Departments they could rely on as their official review panel when creating work on behalf of brands who are conscious enough to speak to a diverse consumer base. If large corporations have diversity and inclusion teams to regulate hiring practices, couldn't agencies have them as a department for brands they serve -- equivalent to brand manager teams, creatives and content teams? Is that too much to ask? Too myopic?


Furthermore, why don’t brands, who fail to have diversity teams in their branding departments, demand that the agencies they hire have one in theirs? It is 2017, how many more times will we need to see large brands make this easily preventable, revenue impacting, boycott inducing marketing mistake?



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