ANA and AIMM Commit to 7 Interventions to Address Systemic Racism in the Ad World

The organizations outlined actions to address representation, bias and supply chain equity

colorful circle lines that says ANA and AIMM in the middle
The Association of National Advertisers and Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing represent hundreds of players in the industry. ANA/AIMM

In a joint letter released this week, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and its partner network the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) committed to seven steps to address systemic racism within the advertising and marketing industry.

It’s been more than two weeks since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four white police officers in Minneapolis sparked national outrage, drawing hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets worldwide in defense of Black lives. Brands, too, came to the protest, mostly through online marketing or communication efforts to signal their support for the movement. But many of those attempts for appropriate messaging fell short.

Despite a rising number of Black marketing professionals sharing experiences to illuminate the ways in which systemic racism extends into the ad world, the Association of National Advertisers sat out of the conversation until this week.

“As we experience unprecedented loss due to the novel coronavirus, Black and Brown communities continue to face an age-old virus that has infected America for four centuries: racism,” the letter stated. “As marketers and industry leaders, we commit to unflinchingly examining our own history and current practices to shine a light on systemic and institutional bias that exists within the industry.”

The letter outlined seven actions that ANA and AIMM members will take to address systemic racism within the industry: achieve representation at all levels and across the industry to accurately reflect U.S. demographics, work with members’ employee resource groups to identify systemic inequalities and establish programs to more effectively address them, increase multicultural marketing from its current 5% to a level commensurate with the percentage of multicultural people that the industry serves, demand accuracy of multicultural and inclusive data, double down on cross-industry partnerships to better reach and understand diverse communities and invest in minority-owned players to create an equitable creative supply chain.

“The inequalities that exist in our nation are also, abundantly and unfortunately, readily apparent in our own industries,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice in a statement. “The ANA and AIMM are fully committed to revisiting and revising our diversity and inclusion efforts and develop new plans that bring real, permanent and long-overdue changes to the advertising and marketing sectors.”

While the letter itself doesn’t include a measurement tool with which to mark ANA members’ progress in achieving these goals, AIMM is developing a ranking system to track each commitment. The current state of affairs will be established using previously conducted research by ANA and AIMM.

Just last month, the ANA released a report that predicted a decrease in spending on diverse suppliers in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.