Diversity in Advertising Career Day: The Winners, The Losers, The Posturing

By Matt Van Hoven 

Update: we’re told G2 was “wandering around” the event and provided some positive feedback.

Wednesday was the Diversity in Advertising Career Day here in New York. The event is one of a few of the industry’s attempts at righting the great wrong that the industry perpetually commits: turning a blind eye to the fact that diversity hardly exists in many shops. Our spies were particularly aware of a few disparaging realities as they milled about the event &#151 and they also took note of two shops that seem to have done it right.


Before we start, here’s the list of agencies that attended:
&#151 Arnold Worldwide
&#151 Bartle Bogle Hegarty
&#151 BBDO New York
&#151 Energy BBDO (Chicago)
&#151 Cablevision
&#151 Carol H. Williams Advertising
&#151 Draftfcb
&#151 Draftfcb Healthcare
&#151 Edelman
&#151 G2 (G2 Branding & Design, G2 Direct & Digital, G2 Interactive, G2 Promotional Marketing)
&#151 Globalhue
&#151 GroupM (MAXUS, MediaCom, mediaedge:cia, Mindshare)
&#151 Initiative
&#151 JWT
&#151 MARC USA
&#151 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
&#151 McGarry Bowen
&#151 MPG
&#151 Starcom Mediavest
&#151 Team Detroit
&#151 Wieden + Kennedy

On to the dirt. There were two clear winners, report the spies, and they were BBDO and Wieden + Kennedy. BBDO has a full-on in-house diversity team dedicated to making the agency whole, so we’re not surprised to hear they were setting appointments with applicants and generally doing it right at their booth. W + K didn’t have a booth because apparently there weren’t any jobs to warrant that whole rigmarole. Nonetheless they still showed up; a rep cruised the event, talking to people, looking out for potential must-have stars. The spy who spoke with said rep. added that he seemed to be genuinely interested in being a part of the day without falsely representing what he was there to do, which was more or less to observe.

Which is more than Bartle Bogle Hegarty can say. They had a booth and all, but in lieu of an agency representative left a plaque on the table requesting potential applicants leave their resumes. G2 wasn’t there either, despite being on the list of vendors. Another agency (whose name our eluded our spy) had a booth and even a warm body to man it. However, the agency had no jobs to offer and was apparently there to help people in their search &#151 whatever that means. When our spy attempted to hand them a resume, he/she was quickly rejected &#151 “oh no,” said the rep. “we’re not accepting resumes, either.”

Leading up to this event we were tempted to pen a piece about how it seems odd that an event like this would take place despite the obvious lack of job ops. We chose to wait until after in case we were somehow impressed, which didn’t really happen. Certainly it’s important that those who are able to hire make attempts to fill their quotas (or at least meet some people). But how can you really do that if you don’t show up? Asking applicants to leave a resume is no better than a “send resumes here” link on your Web site. In fact, the latter is probably a better option since it saves on paper and the humiliation your shop is feeling right now as you read this. Seriously, that’s shameful &#151 send. a. hiring. manager. You’re BBH for heaven’s sake.

The bottom line is pretty simple: if agencies continue to f*ck up in this way, we’re going to keep hearing about it, keep reporting it, and keep making them look like the incompetent slugs they maybe are. This diversity matter is more one of PR than it is anything else. Hold on: it’s obviously important that we all remain cognoscente of the disparities in this business but even if you don’t care or can’t care or do care but don’t know what to do about it or whatever you must recognize one fact: AgencySpy was created for the sole purpose of reporting agency screw ups. It’s what we do and on our best days we manage to piss all over your gaffes, and then throw a spot light on them.

The answer is not for you to kiss our ass (it doesn’t work, ask any PR crew we work with) or to set up a booth and walk away from it; the answer is to get your stuff together and hire people who don’t look like you. And people with vaginas. And people who are representative of the world we live in because “Communication is an ongoing, dynamic process between an infinite number of variables with no beginning, middle or end” and you’re screwing with that undeniable fact by limiting who is part of the conversation. In effect, you’re destroying your ability to do your own job and that’s at least part of why faith has never been a word used in the same sentence as the word advertising (except for this one, of course).

That communication quote belongs to Dr. Ken Ksobiech, by the way. Read it again, and then again.

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