Yes, it is hard to go through February without bringing up the issue of race in advertising. It is one of those topics we feel won't be brought up unless we do. Don't get us wrong; we see glimpses of the conversation in places like Advertising Week, or acceptance speeches during the Clios or even at Cannes, but never has there been a serious, ongoing debate about minorities in AdLand.
Of course, race relations and ethnic issues are not confined to just the advertising community. No, the STEM jobs have these issues, along with the treatment and recruitment of women thrown into the mix. Even the education programs in this country are presenting data that indicates the way kids are being taught and assessed show that the needs of diverse populations are not being met.
But racial and ethnic issues have always been systemic in American society, and if they are present in society, it would only be natural for advertising to reflect it.
We appreciate the effort that the Advertising Educational Foundation is currently exerting. It, along with partners, is releasing a digital archive called the Race and Ethnicity project, and it showcases how advertising reflected the public's thoughts about race and ethnicity from 1890 to today. Here is the video.
You can also see the beginning video on AEF's website.
The AEF sees that no such education piece exists in the industry. And as the American landscape continues to change (as it always has, just at a faster rate) it is ever more important to make sure these up-and-coming professionals understand the history of advertising in America. We, too, believe that once the history is explained and understood, AdLand can bring in a more diverse audience.
As long as our economic system continues to be the way it is, advertising is not going away, nor will the diverse workforce cease growing. We need to figure out how the industry can attract and retain multicultural talent or else it will fall behind, and the other industries will attract the greater minds.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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