My Advertising Dream

by , Aug 23, 2006, 8:03 AM
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I have a dream... Better yet, I have an idea--an idea that could change the minds of many, evoke an emotion, make you laugh, cry, sympathize, smile. It can persuade you to do something good for someone else. I have an idea, but only for the African-American demographic--or so we're led to believe.

Why isn't my idea for everyone? Is it because the color of my skin determines the accounts I will or won't get hired for? In my heart, I want to believe all that matters is the idea, not where it came from, but this industry isn't set up that way, never has been. Instead of concentrating on ideas, it concentrates on colors or ethnicities and chooses its employees that way. All too often, our industry chooses based on the color of skin and not by the creative talent.

I have an idea... that the advertising industry will stop ignoring the fact that the world is not flat or white; it is round and diverse. There was not one African American creative on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Creativity magazine. And in just about every prestigious award show, you won't find even one African American judge. Doesn't the industry have great African-American creative directors? Are the proper ideas in place to facilitate the inclusion of African-Americans as judges? Are there real opportunities for creatives to develop the apparent "respect" it takes to be chosen as judges? Don't advertising magazines have a responsibility to show a thorough representation--not a biased oneof creative professionals, the ones who are changing and nurturing the face of advertising today?

Why is the industry I have so much love, respect, and passion for, so segregated? I have an idea... could it be that general ad agencies can't communicate properly with African- Americans, and African-Americans need to be spoken to by a minority/multicultural ad agency? Yes, it could! What should have happened with general agencies in the past is what has happened with minority/multicultural ad agencies today. They staff up with diversity in mind. If this were done in the beginning by the so-called general agencies, our industry would be much stronger, smarter and more creative.

I have an idea... why can't an idea be the point of it all? Level the playing field to where the best agency wins. Clients should look to their ad agencies to come up with the best concept for their brand; it shouldn't matter where it comes from. As an industry, we must do better. We must start to hire and obtain more diverse groups in order to truly change the world. My idea isn't that we go out and find African-American, Asian or Hispanic talent and hire them over someone more talented. It is, however, to look harder and inform more individuals about our precious industry. We have to be a real trans-cultural community and include everybody if we are going to truly evolve. But we can only get there by including every color of our industry.

When I first started my career in advertising, I was often asked, "How did you get into advertising?" or "How did you become an advertising creative?" As if to say, "How did a black man get into a club that is predominately white?" I would reply, "Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of advertising and wanted to make commercials." I love the power of persuasion that good ads have over people. I remember watching my mom laugh after she heard "Where's The Beef?" and how that used to make me feel.

Yes, yes, I know, not many kids grow up on the playground dreaming of advertising. I am indeed a different kind of fruit, a fruit that will hopefully bear seeds--seeds of change, seeds that will blossom into new ideas. Like the idea that with the right influence and change, more minorities will be exposed to advertising, and one day more general agencies--in fact, the whole industry--will wake up and get an idea of its own, an idea to reach out to multiple ethnicities and embrace the benefits of having a truly multicultural industry. I'll continue to do whatever I can to help this idea become more than just an idea, but an action, a practice, the norm. Will this happen in my lifetime? Well, I have an idea. Better yet... I have a dream!

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