Mr. Advertising Says Minorities Are Ready to Go to Work in Advertising


The American Advertising Federation didn't like what Advertising Age had to say about a recent study the group conducted which found 69.3 percent of students in the organization's Most Promising Minority Students program are employed in marketing and communications. Advertising Age chose to twist that with a story headlined, "Nearly One-Third of AAF Minority Candidates Vacate Ad Industry."

In an apparent response to the Ad Age story, the AAF placed an ad in today's USA Today headed, "Mr. Advertising" with a visual of an African American packaged up like, well, a ready to go to work, fully-charged, easily upgradeable work doll. Questionable creative aside, why don't we all stop twisting facts and just have an open conversation. Gee. It just so happens Adrants is the major sponsor of an upcoming conference on the topic entitled, Advertising and Marketing Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference.

At the event, held March 13 in San Francisco (and again in Boston May 16), industry professional, both minority and non-minority, will discuss the issue of diversity in advertising. Part of the event will also include a job fair for those interested in exploring a career in advertising. Maybe a bit less twisted rhetoric and more open dialog would be a healthy thing for all. More info here.

by Steve Hall    Feb-28-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Good, Industry Events, Trends and Culture   

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Wouldn't it be a little more effective in proving that they are worth hiring if they actually put an ad together that was worth our attention? I agree that this is an important issue and is worth our time, but this ad doesn't do it justice, it's been done about 11264 times. This only hurts their cause.

Posted by: daniel on February 28, 2007 4:24 PM

Wow -- lots of them-and-us language there Daniel. You are part of the problem my friend.

Candidates should be interviewed and reviewed based on their experience, education, and overall fit into the organization.

The inherent problem is that so many agencies have a family atmosphere that its hard for an interviewer to remove their personal biases and convictions about race and give a fair shot to candidates from another ethnic group unless their resume is just completely explosive (the old adage that minorities say about "having to be 5x better than whats normally needed for the position" holds true in many situations)

I've been in the agency/marketing business for nearly 15 years now and I've picked up a couple of non-spoken things along the way

- Most media departments are 100% women (and yes there is some unspoken discrimination against men sometimes in the post-review process but thats an entirely different string)
- The referral/hook-up system is alive and well which in many cases leaves persons from various ethnic groups left in the cold for jobs that would never get posted to national job boards (this is part of the problem...its no secret that most of us still gravitate to each other based on ethnicity at the collegiate the referrals for entry level candidates are going to be lower). In all of my years of receiving referrals on employees (over 100)...I've seen only 1 black candidate referred
- White candidates from all sorts of majors are hired but minority candidates are held to a higher degree of standard....I cant beging to tell you about the number high school graduates, cousins, nephews, nieces, and people who majored in something totally unrelated to advertising who just 'want to try it out', who have jobs at agencies while other candidates (whites included) who have devoted themselves to getting a career in this industry are passed over. An ethnic high school graduate with no college course-work would never get a job at a class a ad agency...its crazy.

This is just my 2c from what I've seen and experienced. I'm in a position where I have hired many individuals to work for me and I've been 100% non-affected by ethnicity in each and every decision. It's hard for most to do that for the reasons above however.

I cant begin to tell you the amount of interviews where
....Ive reached my hand out to shake and the tip of my fingers were grabbed like the interviewer didnt even want to touch me
....The smirk on a face and the weird tone of confirming that Im who they should be interviewing when they see me (dont have a name that could be profiled as any culture)

The world is changing though -- I notice that this generation of candidates and workers are far less sensitive about race than the last. The problem is that the last generation are the people who hold the keys to the doors of access in most cases -- so the problems still exist.

Posted by: Shaggy on March 1, 2007 12:25 PM

I agree with 100% of what you've said. But by running these ads it creates a "they". If I ran an ad for short, overweight white guys, then I would become a they because I separate myself from the group.

This is an important issue, and there are a lot of favors floating around that don't benifit certain groups. But if I put a personal ad out that was horrible, people would look at it and think, "why should I ever hire him, he can't even do an ad for himself."

That's all my point is.

Posted by: daniel on March 1, 2007 10:27 PM


I'm an African American woman seeking an entry level position in account service. Do you have any words of advice for me? Where should minority candidates begin thier search?


Posted by: Rose on March 2, 2007 5:37 AM

Hi Rose,

The basic answer to your question is 'everywhere' (monster, hotjobs, and are excellent sites to find the coolest jobs out there)

The variables on your chances to land a job in account service depend on a number of variables however...

1. you: do you have the 'air', professionalism, background/education, and well-spoken tone to be in account service at a class a agency. Account service people interface with they are usually the most well dressed and (unspoken) more attractive people in the agency halls

2. geography: are you in a major city...this exponentially increased your chances as agencies in smaller cities could be more prone to not give a chance to minority candidates who are not directly solicited or referred by someone on the inside

Look to the major search engines -- there are dozens of jobs out there all over the country. Be flexible if you can with moving to another city (NYC, Atlanta, Chicago are the places to be for job flexibility)

Last piece of advice is since your entry level to be flexible with the type of agency that you're going to enter (ie traditional focuses, interactive, print focused, full service, etc). There are tons of things that you could just fall into and end up loving.

And as usual -- shoot for the best shops out there first or smaller shops that are going somewhere who have a nice stable of clients and generally smart people at the helm

Best of luck to you!!

Posted by: Shaggy on March 2, 2007 10:35 AM

Great idea for the conference. I wonder if anyone this crew will be there:

(From the guy at copyranter)

It's like, how much more white could this be? and the answer is none. None more white.

Posted by: daveednyc on March 2, 2007 2:07 PM


Thank you for the excellent advice. With 15 years of experience as a black man in advertising, I'm sure you have an incredible story. Would it be possible for us to take this off the record?


Posted by: Rose on March 3, 2007 11:20 AM