Project MC Talks, Hopes for Action


The initiative comes against the backdrop of a minority population surge in America-at the end of 2007, minorities represented 34 percent of the U.S population, up from 30 percent in 2000. Also, the ad industry again finds itself under scrutiny for its relative paucity of African-Americans, this time via civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri and the NAACP.

A major topic of conversation within Project MC revolves around the pitfalls of being a specialist among generalists and whether specialists should regularly vie for general-market work. Some participants favor the latter, while others argue that you can't have it both ways, even if general-market shops encroach on minority-market ground.

That said, minority agencies have created work -- albeit from minority-market briefs -- that has become mainstream. In 2006, for example, Hispanic shop Conill Advertising produced a spot for Toyota that ran on the Super Bowl. Also, spirits marketers from time to time employ minority shops as lead agencies. But those instances are relatively rare.

"If anything, the exceptions suggest that there is a common ground and that [it] isn't exploited to the degree it could be," said Muse.

Project MC's short-term goal is to produce a guide for multicultural shops to most effectively operate in this economy that will be presented at the ANA's Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in October. Long term, Muse hopes the effort will attract more participants and ignite a dialog that will continue within the group.

The bigger challenge, of course, is turning dialog into action. "It's a good start and I do hope to see some meaningful tactics or actions," said Wong. "Otherwise, it's just talk. I don't think that's productive. We can always talk at parties. There's a group together, [so] you want to achieve something."