Old (White) Boy Network Under Attack

An Ad Age reporter heard some severe criticism of the white bread industry she covers.

The president-CEO of Black Enterprise magazine yesterday called for consumer and political activism aimed at increasing the number of marketing dollars spent with black-owned media.
Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. said agencies that specialize in targeting blacks often are not responsible for media buying and planning for products bought by blacks. “This is one of the most racist industries in this country. Period. I’m angry about it. Agencies are licensed to practice racism, not just in hiring but also in investing in these media.”
Mr. Graves made the comments at an event sponsored by the magazine to promote its annual “40 Best Companies for Diversity” special report.

In related news, New York’s Commission on Human Rights last week subpoenaed 16 top executives from the city’s advertising firms to testify in September in public hearings on agency hiring practices, with specific emphasis on the absence of blacks in senior positions.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan seeking the perfect pale ale in the Pacific Northwest. Copywriter and brand strategist at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp.

  • http://www.bullshitobserver.com Todd

    In other related news, hemosexual people are often not involved in marketing to homosexuals. God fearing Christians are often not involved in advertising targetted at other God fearing Christians (mainly because they don’t have a sense of humor.) And so on.
    Who knows why it’s always white people with insulated suburban upbringings that are put in charge of creating and promoting the bullshit?

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    One of the interesting aspects to this story is the fact that advertising (at least the creative side of it) is often thought of as the great meritocracy. One need not have attended an impressive school, nor any school at all to get a break in this business. No family connections are needed. No specific work experience is required, and so on. One simply must be equipped to deliver the goods. That’s what opens the door.
    I don’t believe we are intentionally excluding anyone based on race, nor any other criteria, with the possible exception of age. It may be that minorities, blacks in this case, do not feel comfortable approaching such a white palace. If that’s the case, we need to do better at reaching out into the community and helping people feel welcome. We need to be more approachable, despite our hectic schedules.

  • http://multicultclassics.blogspot.com HighJive

    >> One of the interesting aspects to this story is the fact that advertising (at least the creative side of it) is often thought of as the great meritocracy.>It may be that minorities, blacks in this case, do not feel comfortable approaching such a white palace.> I don’t believe we are intentionally excluding anyone based on race, nor any other criteria, with the possible exception of age.> We need to be more approachable, despite our hectic schedules.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    High Jive,
    I figured you’d want to pick a fight with someone over this. Which is fine, but I’m not the person you need to do battle with. I’m not a sociologist, I only play one on the interweb. As to your questioning of my credentials/work history, I’ve worked at two large agencies. How about you? Where do you work? And what’s your real name? Oh, that’s right…it doesn’t matter. All that matters is the ideas you bring.

  • http://multicultclassics.blogspot.com HighJive

    easy, dude, i was just making observations.
    not picking fights, just challenging perspectives. your perspectives are shared by lots of folks. and disputed by lots of folks. it’s all part of the never-ending debate.
    and yeah, all that matters is ideas. just ideas, not my ideas (which, incidentally, are shared by a lot of folks too — minority and otherwise).

  • http://notbillable.blogspot.com Irene

    Wait. Did I miss something? Why IS HighJive’s real name important?
    And just to be fair: hiring who you know is a practice that cuts across ethnic, age-related, sexual affiliations, isn’t it? At least, that’s what my WASPy, middle-aged female co-workers tell me.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    Irene,
    Sorry to answer a question with a question, but why is the number of BIG agencies I’ve worked at important?
    Not sure how many big agencies you’ve worked at, but you’d quickly see advertising is often the great aristocracy.
    There’s something condescending about this line of inquiry. Add to it a line-by-line didactic breakdown of my commentary, with a smart ass closing, and you’ve got the beginnings of an interweb spat.

  • http://multicultclassics.blogspot.com HighJive

    OK, need to respond to this.
    The toughest thing about this topic remains our collective inability to separate the personal from the issues.
    Believe it or not, David, I did not even intend to attack you personally. But clearly, it was received that way, so I do apologize.
    I have always appreciated your willingness to throw yourself out there and type your mind. And I’ve always appreciated your willingness to let adpulp serve as a forum for debating on all things — from the serious to the trivial.
    The truth is, I found your post to present a lot of the standard comments. And I don’t mean that in a bad or critical way. If we were to review past posts on this topic (and I’m including threads that have appeared on Ernie Schenck’s blog, adrants, ihaveanidea, knockthehustle.com and more), we would definitely see a pattern of thinking and beliefs prevalent in our industry — and society as a whole.
    My basic goal was to present the standard responses for contrast. It’s the old point/counterpoint. And yes, the responses I offered are just as standard as the remarks you offered.
    Didn’t mean for anything to sound condescending. Despite the fact that your actual name appears and mine does not, I really know little about your background and vice versa. I think big agency experience is important in this discussion, as these shops have come to symbolize (and perpetuate) the issue. After all, it looks like subpoenas were not sent to any small shops.
    However, if you’re a Boomer whose hiring practices have contributed to the overall dilemma, then you probably should take offense to a few comments. But I’m guessing you don’t fall into that category.
    As always, this online dialogue format has a lot of drawbacks, leading to a lot of misinterpretation and bad communication.
    Additionally, it’s always unfortunate to realize that no progress ever seems to happen unless outsiders like the commission in New York intervene. We continue to do a lousy job of self-regulation.
    Anyway, that’s my wordy response. Again, I do apologize for my bad communication. But like President Bush’s recent excuse for ribbing the reporter with a vision disorder, I needle you guys out of affection. And I really wasn’t seeking to needle individuals versus needling ideas.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    HJ,
    I believe you when you say “attack” was not personal. No apology needed, although it is nice of you to offer.

  • http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

    It’s good to discover early how sensitive you are, Mr. Burns. I better not comment on this blog.
    Too bad. I was just starting to dig it.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    Clyde,
    You’re afraid to comment here, but I’m the sensitive one. That makes a lot of sense. About as much sense as judging someone by their blog, or the comments therein.

  • http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

    Fascinating. Um, thanks.

  • http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

    To clarify:
    There’s nothing scary about you.
    I’m just responding to your public persona.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    You’re right, I do play a sensitve type online. My bad.
    Sarcasm aside, what do you hope to gain by making a smart ass comment here? Do you think I’m going to change to suit your needs, or our readers’ needs? If there was a big ass pile of loot involved, perhaps I would. But there isn’t, so I won’t.