Asked whether the ad industry was also making progress attracting people of color, Willington unveiled plans for a new joint industry task force to address the issue. "One of the first steps will be to form a committee to explore some next steps," he said. "We'll probably conduct some research, and then issue a set of recommendations after we've analyzed it."
Acknowledging that some civil rights advocates have criticized Madison Avenue for dragging its feet on the issue, Willington announced several interim steps to accelerate the process, including relocating the Four As annual management conference from the golf Mecca of Scottsdale, Arizona, to Mecca.
"Well, you know what they say, 'If Mohamed won't come to the mountain...' Well, you get my drift."
The Four As, in conjunction with the Advertising Council, also unveiled plans for a new public service recruitment effort aimed at different multicultural segments. Ads in the campaign include:
"Hate olives? Try a three mojito lunch."
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
"Yeah, we know that last one's already been used, but it's worked so well in the past we thought we'd try it again," Willington said, adding that he didn't really understand "what all the fuss was about."
"You know, it's actually kind of ironic," he added. "I mean, Madison Avenue is named after a street that's named after one of our founding fathers, who was also a well-known slave owner. So when you think about it, Madison was one of the first Americans to employ African Americans."
"What's that you say? He didn't pay them? Well, have you seen what agencies are paying people these days?"