Clinton: Give Minorities Fair Play

Federal ad vertising contracts must fairly represent minority agencies, and “special attention” should be given to placing ads in ethnic media, President Clinton demanded in an executive order last week.

The directive, which also requires federal departments to compensate minority agencies for their work based on fair market rates, marks the first time a president has issued an executive order that addresses advertising.

The order was signed at a White House ceremony Friday, where the American Advertising Federation voluntarily adopted principles urging advertisers and agencies to increase diversity in the work force. The AAF suggested buying and selling media on ethnic-owned and -operated outlets as another way to promote fairness.

The order in part directs “federal departments and agencies to ensure that all creation, placement, and transmission of federal advertising are fully reflective of the nation’s diversity,” and for “each federal department and agency to aggressively seek to ensure [that] small and disadvantaged businesses participate in procurement for information technology and telecommunications industry.”

Government agencies have been given 90 days to develop and submit to the Office of Management and Budget a long-term strategic plan for complying with the order.

Ad lobby groups said they are pleased. “The federal government as a client is establishing some very aggressive rules to play by,” said Heide Gardner, svp of diversity and strategic programs at the AAF.

Clinton’s order and the AAF’s principles grew out of a Federal Communications Commission report questioning advertisers’ minority media buying practices.

“I think it is incumbent on the federal government to increase the access and procurement opportunities … so more minority businesses can be strengthened,” said Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich.

Adonis Hoffman, svp at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said the order will “encourage inclusion, and when you have an inclusive market, it only leads to greater profitability.”

While the order is mandatory, the AAF’s principles are voluntary. Hoffman said by endorsing the AAF’s guidelines, advertising lobby groups are showing a willingness to reach out to the multicultural marketplace.

“I think the industry is stepping up to the plate,” Hoffman said.