Multiethnic Student Programs
Agency: The BrandLab
Campaign: Various Student Programs
The BrandLab’s vision is simple: Advertising and marketing thrive when they incorporate the insights and creativity of people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. But where will these people come from? Expose students to marketing careers and connect the dots for them from the classroom to the industry.
In its home community of Minneapolis-St. Paul, The BrandLab brings together local agencies and companies—like Olson, Carmichael Lynch, Fallon, General Mills and Target—to create opportunities for diverse and deserving high school students. Many of its participants come from the poorest areas of the Twin Cities and the organization’s programs offer them ways to increase their life and job skills while also building networks that can help them as they move into their careers.
“It excited me to think that we could go out into our community and start to identify and excite people who would want to be in our industry,” says Mark Addicks, CMO of General Mills and The BrandLab chairman.
It starts with hands-on learning. Last year, more than 400 students participated in The BrandLab Classroom, a six- to eight-week course that gives students a practical understanding of how advertising works. Students can then apply to BrandLab Connect, which puts what they’ve learned to practical use via internships, scholarships and training.
In just five years, BrandLab has gone from a single test class to 18 classrooms, 32 internships and 300 volunteers. The first high school students are now in college and their work readiness skills make them viable competitors for jobs in the industry.
Campaign: ECHO: Driving Success and
Inspiring Cultural Change
Diversity and inclusion are important to Valassis—it formed its first Diversity Council in 1998, and was honored with Mosaic Awards in 2006 and 2009. But by 2010, it was time to take a step back and examine how it could hold itself to a higher standard.
"We recognize and value different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds in our everyday decisions and actions as we embrace diversity and inclusion in everything we do,” says Rob Mason, Valassis president and CEO.
ECHO—its rebranded Diversity Council—is focused on creating more inclusive organizational structures, developing leaders and associates, investing in community outreach, and creating new communication avenues. In 2011, as part of ECHO, a committee of 11 senior leaders was formed to set actionable and measurable diversity goals. One of its first initiatives was the creation of the Valassis Women’s Network—the company’s first Business Resource Group—to foster professional development, connectivity and outreach. The group now has more than 300 members. To provide additional opportunities for advancement, Valassis expanded its mentoring program and also established a talent steering committee.
Through these efforts, Valassis exceeded many of its 2011 diversity goals. Diversity recruiting for salaried associates ended the year at 37.5 percent, above the 34 percent target. The percentage of female associates hit 53 percent, and 47 percent of the company’s management and professional positions are occupied by women.
Agency: McCann Worldgroup
Campaign: Million Hoodies Movement for Trayvon Martin
McCann social strategist Daniel Maree was outraged over the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager shot because he was wearing a hoodie and “looked suspicious.” With a budget of $0, he and the employees of McCann Social Central jumped in and decided to take action. And a movement was born.
It started with a blog post and a video asking people to upload pictures of themselves wearing hoodies. As a rallying cry, the McCann team came up with #millionhoodies, a way to link the images to the million signatures the Martin family wanted on its Change.org petition.
Photos carrying the #millionhoodies hashtag started pouring in—more than 300,000 in total. The McCann team created a poster to unify the message and built a website to aggregate photos from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Change.org petition became, according to ABC News, “the fastest growing petition in the history of the Internet,” getting more than 2 million signatures in a matter of days. A scheduled March 21, 2012 protest became known as the Million Hoodies March, and more than 40,000 people attended the rallies. Congressman Bobby Rush wore a hoodie in the U.S. House of Representatives. The McCann team had succeeded in creating a portrait of America that wouldn’t stand for racial profiling.