AdWeek takes on Diversity

Welcome to Our Diversity Special Issue - AdweekMedia Editors 

It's hard to believe we're still having the same conversation. It's 2010. There's a black man in the Oval Office. Titans of industry come in all colors -- except, it seems, for ours.

 The media, marketing and advertising universe is devoid of multicultural leadership, or diverse understudies, for that matter. As Noreen O'Leary reports, only 6.4 percent of the American population working in the advertising business and related services in 2009 were African American, 3.2 percent were Asian and 9.5 percent Hispanic. Sure, the number has inched higher in the past few years, as government agencies mandated more diverse hiring practices. But there's still a long way to go.

 Jamison Reeves, the black man du jour in ads these days, tells Adweek critic Barbara Lippert in her Q&A with the actor that he rarely, if ever, sees a producer, director or copywriter who is black on any of his sets. "I'm usually the only black person there," he says. When he sees someone else of color, "it seems weird, but good."

 The pending count of the population in the 2010 census set to be delivered to President Obama in December may finally prove to be the catalyst to diversity in the media business. As Jim Edwards reports, the minority will soon be the majority. The tally will impact how marketers allocate media dollars and how agencies target consumers. Will the ethnic agencies that for so long provided the only home for minorities to work and grow become obsolete? Time will tell.

 Yet one thing is certain: As creative editor Eleftheria Parpis reports, campaigns created by minority agencies for minority markets are increasingly crossing into mainstream markets. By 2050, it's expected that whites will no longer be the dominant ethnicity in America, and many marketers, like McDonald's, are already gearing up for that change. While minorities still struggle to achieve equality at agency, media and marketing companies, it might not be moral responsibility that changes their situation. The demographic shift may hold the key to parity as no one can ignore the numbers -- numbers that seem to be squarely on the side of minorities.


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