Just An Online Minute... Adversity Celebrates One Year Of Diversifying Your People Portfolio

The One Club's Adversity Anniversary, The Bar At JWT, New York
October 7, 2009

Back in the day, when I first starting writing this column, a commenter occasionally harassed me about not diversifying my captioned images.  This commenter was repetitive and, when I clicked through to her site (which was pretty wonky) I discovered she wasn't 100% legit.  But that's not the point.  She would needle me about the homogeneity ... oh let's just say it - all the white people and I would get defensive.   What am I supposed to do? Photoshop people of color into my shots?  The sad fact is plenty of these industry parties are pretty white.  Eventually, she disappeared, but don't think the message has.  Whether or not she was legit, the issue is, and that's where OneClub's Adversity program comes into play, with their mission to educate multicultural students at all levels of learning about careers in advertising.  Haven't heard of them yet? Well start listening because last night, they celebrated their one-year anniversary at JWT.

These are the events I love to cover.  There is no pretense, no hierarchy of misinformed celebrity. It's just good people trying to do good things.  People with big dreams seeing their dreams realized and supported.  Also, the DJ was kickass.  Imagine you're Adversity founding member, Julius Dunn II, and your mission is being supported by one of the "big ones," JWT.  The connections must just build themselves like the line that kept building at the party buffet table.  I think I saw three lonely cocktail wieners left by the time I arrived, and I wasn't that late!

Last night was my second time at the JWT bar (maybe 3rd?) and it still perplexes me and gives me the ole "aha..." at the same time.  I nudged AgencySpy's Kirin Aditham, who was resting his elbows on the electric blue bar because I knew for a variety of liquid reasons he wouldn't remember my face from the Social Media Society launch party.  He was sipping on some courage as we debated the positives of an in-house bar.  You never have to worry about "information brokers" cocking their ears into your Donny Deutsch Big Idea session or AgencySpy listening in on your "my art director wears his pants backwards" gossip fest... oh wait...  But then, you also have to worry about Chauncey the new intern barding behind those sweet babypoop-green couches after too many snifters of schnapps.  Ah, the advertising industry.

While wandering the room I spotted the always bowtie consistent Nick Arrington, who I first met at the UPTOWN Afterhours event at Saks Fifth Avenue.  I also completely wiffed on OMD's Kenji Summers, owner of sparkling wristwear, who greeted me with a warm sidehug as I cycled through my grey matter rolodex and came up blank.  Kenji, I swear to [insert deity of your choice here] I will not draw a blank next time.  I also spotted AgencySpy intern Ralph Lee in the crowd as well as Julius Dunn and Tiffany Edwards, Education Director & Adversity Manager at The One Club.

Half way through the evening, partners and friends of Adversity approached the podium to give recognition to its founders and supporters and to also deliver a little mini-education to the party's attendees.  I cringed each time the bar section had to be SHHHHHHHHed.  How hard is it for people to remember that they're there for a reason?  Free drinks are great, but let's not forget where the free drinks came from.  Granted, the speaker portion ran a little long and the guests were having a great time getting to know each other, but still - a little respect is in order.  

Speaking of respect, Sallie Mars, SVP of McCann Erickson and Director of Creative Services & Diversity announced that since Adversity partnered with the Creative Circus, a "two-year portfolio-building educational program for the creative side of the advertising, design and photography industries," 40% of the new class of 90 is African American or Hispanic.  That's a 200% increase, which in layman's terms is "a lot more than before."  Mars has a "do what you have to do!" attitude half joking that if she has to start recruiting/educating multicultural student as early on as preschool, then that's just what she'll do.

A few speakers seemed a little worse for the wear having returned recently from the 2009 AdColor Awards show held in Phoeniz, AZ, but the passion broke through the jetlag and I'm sure they mustered up some staying power for the rest of the night.  As I left around 8:30 p.m, the place had finally begun to get packed, which makes me wonder if we all got the same invitation.

Sidle up to the bar at JWT!

Send invitations to!

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