Microsoft, Census, Y&R Are Initial Targets; Boycott Urged
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Microsoft and the U.S. Census Bureau are the latest targets of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s efforts to get large advertisers to spend more money on ethnic media.
At the same time, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich., is urging consumers to shun companies who fail to spend their advertising dollars on African American-targeted media.
Sharpton’s Madison Avenue Initiative, which recently elected Black Enterprise magazine president Earl Graves Jr. as its chairman, has requested a meeting with Microsoft, the Census Bureau and Young & Rubicam, New York, the Census Bureau’s ad agency. Previously, Sharpton has targeted Burger King, Colgate-Palmolive, Macy’s, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, PepsiCo, Phillip Morris, Prudential and the U.S. Postal Service.
MAI will draw up a list this month of the “worst advertisers”–companies with fat ad budgets and records of not spending enough of those dollars on ethnic-targeted media. The list will be approved by the group’s executive board, which also includes Raul Alarcon Jr., president of Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System and co-chair of the American Advertising Federation’s Business Practices Review Committee, which is studying factors that influence company investments in multicultural advertising.
Sharpton said he has coordinated his efforts with Kilpatrick, whose boycott call is contained in September’s Essence Magazine.
“We need the Census count to be right and we need to make sure we are not undercounted,” Sharpton said. Minority ads for the census are handled by Y&R subsidiaries The Bravo Group (Hispanic) and Kang & Lee (Asian) and the independent Chisolm-Mingo Group (African American).
Sharpton said he has not yet received a response from Microsoft, which did not return calls by press time.
Y&R evp, account managing director Terry Dukes said the Census Bureau has invited Sharpton to discuss the matter. “We need to have a conversation with him rather than do it in the press,” Dukes said.
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