Marketers in Agency Diversity Fight

Letters Sent to 25 Leading National Advertisers

Posted by Ken Wheaton on 03.25.09 @ 08:54 AM
The NAACP has sent a letter to Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley and 24 other marketers previously on Advertising Age's Leading National Advertisers list asking that they "require their advertising agencies to use diverse teams in creative and account-management positions." (read the P&G here.)

Aside from P&G, letters went out to AT&T, Verizon Communications, General Motors Corp., Time Warner, Ford Motor Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Walt Disney Co., Unilever, Sprint Nextel Corp., General Electric Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler, Sony Corp., L'Oreal, Sears Holdings Corp., Kraft Foods, Bank of America, Nissan Motor Co., Macy's, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Honda Motor Co., Viacom and Berkshire. (Last month, the Association of Black-Owned Advertising Agencies sent a letter to the ANA challenging marketers on diversity.)

The letter, from NAACP Interim General Counsel Angela Ciccolo, was sent in conjunction with the Madison Avenue Project, an effort by the group and civil-rights attorney Cyrus Mehri to bring diversity to advertising agencies through either persuasion or a lawsuit. Designed to open up another front in the battle and put pressure on clients, it requests that each company "identify a senior executive to serve as a point of contact on the issue of racial bias in the advertising industry and to meet promptly with the NAACP."

After a couple of pages of data combed from MAP's previously released report, the P&G letter dispenses with the niceties.

"The behavior [of the agencies] documented in the report is illegal, and we are sure that Procter & Gamble does not wish to be associated in any way with illegal behavior. The behavior documented in the report is not only illegal but also clearly out of step with the moral climate of the times, and again we are sure that Procter & Gamble would not want in any way to be so out of step with the times."

See the Ad Age article here.
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