Hadji Williams Explains The Perils Of Multicultural Advertising

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hadji Williams’ Knock The Hustle is one of the best books about advertising ever written.
But for a free sample of how insightful a writer Hadji is, check out his guest column on Talent Zoo, in which he explains just how multicultural advertising goes so wrong sometimes. Here, Hadji talks about what often happens when multicultural agencies take on projects on behalf of “general market” agencies:

The agency (oftentimes begrudgingly) takes the gig, knowing full well the surest way to do hack work is to bite someone else’s idea, which is exactly what they’ve been asked to do. What often follows are a couple of frustrating meetings with the client/AOR where the targeted agency explains that the general market’s insights really don’t apply to their particular community and that they’d be better off doing fresh creative/fresh strategies all together, to which the AOR/client often responds, “Yes, but for the sake of synergy, let’s stay on message, okay guys? Thanks.”
Eventually, the ethnic agency spits out something and into the review process it goes. The AOR/Client sees it. They’re uncomfortable with some of the language and the imagery. It’s unfamiliar to them. Why? Because as with as least 80% of white Americans, The Client/AOR Folks live in virtually all white neighborhoods (according to the US Census Bureau as of 2003). These concepts are concepts are pretty foreign to them.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I’m sorry, but this guy is earning a living telling white dominated agencies that they’re racist sons of bitches, meanwhile he provides absolutely no evidence whatsoever that minority owned agencies produce work that’s any different, better, more effective, etc. at reaching minority audiences. His “columns” contain nothing concrete, nothing observable, only diatribes. As far as I can tell, he is simply a failed creative who, if he gets his book title out there often enough, will become the go to guy for minority issues in this business. I’m not buying it. Go make some ads and be quiet.

  2. well, it’s unfortunate that the only go-to guys for minority issues in this business are jesse jackson and al sharpton.
    that aside, anyone who’s honestly interested in getting a primer on advertising to black consumers should check out the book detailed at the address below. fyi, i am not affiliated at all with the authors or publishers.

  3. I don’t plan on defending myself on every blog because it’s a waste of time, but I will do one quick lap here just to make a couple points to close out the year:
    (1) Every criticism I have ever made about this industry was first made behind closed doors, “within the family” and always accompanied by solutions–be it a willingness to set up minority internship programs, go out and help recruit minorities,work with AEs on billing issues, management on leadership styles, etc. Whatever problems I identified, I’ve always offered workable executable effective, and FREE solutions. And as my parents raised me, I always looked in the mirror and worked on myself first.
    But in most every case, I was told to shut up get back to work because most folks like things just the way they are. So be it.
    (2) The work. those in the know, are fully aware that I have produced more work in my career than most folks twice my age. Do I have a shelf filled with shiny awards (that the average consumer could care less about)? No. Do I have a bunch of goateed slacks fawning over stuff I did 10 years ago? No. Now…Have I made money for every client I’ve ever worked on? Yes. Has every single agency that I’ve ever freelanced for offered me a staff postion? Yup. Has every place I’ve ever worked at tried to hire me back? Yup. Do I have the goods to do this at a high level until I’m 75? Yup. But will I? Nope. Not as long as people are more interested in swinging on those trying to fix the problems than they are in fixing the actual problems themselves.
    well i’m done for the year. As much as I’ve appreciated the support from folks like HighJive and DannyG, I’m getting sick of the flood of racist hatemail. there’s been lots of it.
    By the way folks: Where I’m from, when you have a problem with someone, you say it to their face. And if you can’t do that, you at least sign your name to your public posts.
    “Corporate America makes people soft.”
    Happy Holidays.

  4. Hadji,
    Thanks for participating here.
    Don’t let the bastards get you down. You know they are out there, and many of them will never see the light, no matter how many opportunities they are given. So you help the ones who do see it.