Monday, January 25, 2010

FearlessQA - The Advertising Industry and the Issue of Diversity

The advertising industry and the topic of "Diversity" is often seen as both an "much need" and "why bother" discussion depending on where you stand.

This weeks Crispin Porter + Bogusky webcast "FearlessQA" (available on Justin.Tv) will tackle this very interesting and timely topic of "Diversity in the Advertising Industry". Guest joining Alex Bogusky will be Lincoln Stephens a former advertising account management executive turned activist and founder of The Marcus Graham Project and Shelton Scott of DDB Chicago who in 2006 was recognized as a "Rising Star" in the marketing business by Diversity in Business.

What makes it timely is within the next few months there will be a fresh crew of young "Adlanders" hitting the streets looking for jobs and may face issues that are often not obvious or seen until you truly stop and look around. They will look around to see if there is truly "Diversity" within the agency of choice. But what does "diversity" really mean? Is purely based on race? Is it gender? Can be seen in terms of agism? Big questions, with very few answers.

An interesting POV is that many advertising agencies and their client view "diversity" as a bottom line issue. The advertising industry recognized that the "diversity" in terms of race was an issue in terms of content and became concerned and knowledgeable about the impact of potential buying power.

So back to the questions of "diversity". What is it exactly?

The Canadian Advertising Foundation (CAF) issued specific "Gender Portrayal Guidelines" to "diversity" as an issue of the portrayal of men and women, but leave race completely out of the picture:
Advertising should portray both women and men in the full spectrum of diversity and as equally competent in a wide range of activities both inside and outside the home.
If you get a copy of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards - read Clause 15 of the Code which deals with taste and public decency:
"It is recognized that standards of taste are subjective and vary widely from person to person and community to community, and are, indeed, subject to constant change. Advertising must not present demeaning or derogatory portrayals of individuals or groups; must not exploit violence, sexuality, children, the customs, convictions or characteristics of religious or ethno-cultural groups, persons with disabilities or any other person, group or institution in a manner which is offensive to generally prevailing standards.
I guess it really is a great debate that is often seen as uncomfortable, but clearly worthy of dialogue.

In preparing my students for the upcoming FearlessQA, I researched the topic and the guests and came upon the website home of the The Marcus Graham Project (MGP), this site is dedicated to being a resource for "a national network of diverse professionals" that will assist in developing the next generation of leadership within the advertising, media and marketing industry. The MGP
"identify, expose, mentor and train ethnically diverse men between the ages of 16 and 34 in all aspects of the media industry, including advertising, entertainment and marketing".
"... (MGP) vision is to provide long-term access to information, technology, financial and people resources that will strategically develop a viable pool of talent and leadership within the industry".
The Marcus Graham Project acts as a pro-bono marketing consultancy to non-profit and social change initiatives. Through the support of corporate and private partners.

MPG also works as a training program through "iCr8 Bootcamp". The iCr8  Summer Bootcamp, is specifically designed to provide diverse aspirants in the field of advertising & marketing with the exposure and experience necessary to solidify careers within the advertising, media & marketing industry. The summer long program, held in Dallas, Texas. Bootcamp was piloted during the summer of 2009 with seven (7) participants chosen through an application process, portfolio review and in-person interview held during the spring. If you are interested in this years iCr8 Bootcamp you can apply the deadline is February 12th, 2010.

Tune in this Thursday, Janauary 28 Live or watch the rebroadcast at any time at

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