Diversity In The Ad Business: "The Cowards That Be."
(I was a guest blogger over at AgencySpy. Please go over and comment)
With the impending lawsuit from Cyrus Mehri coming to hit the ad industry, everyone has something to say about diversity in the business. We decided to let you guys sound off about what's really going on. If you want to sound off on diversity (men, GLBT, women, white, Latino, etc) - send us an email at superspyin at gmail dot com. The mic is yours.
Welcome Craig Brimm. He is the author of the ad blog, Kiss My Black Ads, as well as the owner and creative director of Culture Advertising Design in Atlanta. Brimm is going to talk diversity - raw.
The Diversity Dance (White people try and keep up)
"Do black people get tired of the diversity push. Hell yes! It's a mind-numbing maze of senseless posturing, positioning and quirking maneuvering, (just like some peoples dancing.) Damn it's like your whole public life is some sort of Half-Life guerilla campaign for white love...
Tip for white people: Your best black friend may not want you to know this, he/she is fronting on you. Not always, not always every minute but, at some point in the day he/she has to render part of him/herself irrelevant enough to dispose of for constant acceptance from their white counterparts. I'm sure other ethnicities do it as well. It's not all of us. Some of us are fearless and only expect acceptance on their own terms. Not that they bully you with blackness or are inflexible, but they are fearless. Obama, fearless. MLK, fearless. Muhammad Ali, fearless. Me... well, I'm working on it.
Remember your culture is like the air you breath, it's ubiquitous and virtually unnoticeable to you. So it's hard for you to see where it may offend or diminish another. But what's like air to you is like water to another person of a different background. Hence a different set of improvised rules apply to stay afloat. Not exactly earth shattering info here but, easy to forget, making it even more important to remember.
If daily life immersed in another culture is always tricky, then daily life in a General Market Ad Agency culture is like doing the Soulja Boy in a zero gravity disco. I don't know why I say things like that, just work with me. In this environment you have to understand the dominate culture on a whole other level. The intricacies of public and segmented motivation, the comedic flavor of the day as well as how to sell on a most grand scale. Guess what we do, we get it. The cool kids club isn't really all that exclusive. We came up on the same shit. The music, the TV shows, the lingo, hell if we didn't invent it we improved on it or chose not to participate in noticeable numbers. Just like you do with other cultures traditions or passing fancies of the day.
From "King of the Hill" to "Kings of Leon," we get it. From "South Park" to the newly Hallowed Ground of Hip-Hop, The South Bronx, we get it. So, really your perceived bastions of hip are just jealously guarded versions of other gleaned sub-culture. Don't get me wrong it's fun, cool, hip are whatever to belong to the insider ad clubs but, the level of self-importance some people and organizations take is a ridiculous look. A lot of these people really believe their own hype! I'm too cool to play with other kids seems to be the prevailing theme.
I think the solution lies with the "Cowards that Be." Some agency heads are pushing out on the new initiatives to up the minority numbers and they are to be lauded for their effort. I pray they continue. Some have a long way to go. The real difference will be made by the employees in the shops. It was my immediate coworkers and people in other departments that really made me feel like shit less than wanted in a few of my agency experiences. The day-to-day interaction/encounters and the level of authentic rapport makes all the difference in an integrated agency experience. That's what makes people stay.
You know if you bend the corners upward on that flappy thing on the lower part of your face it's called a smile. I know it's some corny shit, but I can count on one hand the times I got actual smiles.
More corny shit; write a letter or email to the company heads to inquire about diversity or the lack there of. When you feel comfortable enough find a way to reach out, as a company or in a solo effort.
I refuse to believe we as an industry can't solve this without litigious coercion. I can't believe we are not creative enough as an industry to actualize concepts that can successfully sell through a diverse work place. The truth is we are living a thwarted potential and a blunted affect of our collective brilliance."
Posted by superspy
(I was a guest blogger over at AgencySpy. Please go over and comment) https://sites.google.com/site/mayuradocs/PinIt.png