Lawsuit Alert: Advertising Is About To Be Black, White And Bruised All Over

By SuperSpy 

You probably have some thoughts on the lack of African Americans in the advertising industry whether you are white, black, a woman or a homosexual. The topic has been bouncing around for years without affecting much change despite more clients reaching out to the demographic. Meanwhile, more blacks are advancing faster in other professional fields. So… what’s the problem? Is it that African Americans don’t want to be in the business? Is it that darn glass glass ceiling? Are African Americans are still getting stereotyped to death?

Cyrus Mehri, a prominent civil rights lawyer, is interested in finding out. Adweek is reporting that Mehri is going after the agencies who have failed to increase their percentage of minority employees per the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR). His office’s first step will be to issue a report on the state of African Americans in the business that compares advertising against other industries. Yes, you’ve seen reports before, but this one could lead to a major lawsuit against agencies.


Adweek has penned an eight page article that is worth your time. They note, as we did a few weeks ago, that when it comes to lists of top diversified companies, advertising agencies never make it.

“Conspicuously absent from the list is an advertising agency, and in eight years an agency has never appeared. (Full disclosure: Adweek currently does not employ a single person of color among the 16 members of its editorial and design staffs.)

Hunh. Bravo to the journo for diming themselves out, but hey Adweek? What’s the problem? Anyway, Mehri has yet to commit to a full class action lawsuit, but he has a wealth of experience taking on organizations from the NFL to Coca-Cola. Will it happen?

In the face of a figures such as:

– Minority turnover is 30 percent higher than whites at IPG

– Of the nearly 100 agencies that Interpublic owns outright or partly, only two are headed by African Americans: Larry Harris of the newly formed Ansible and Steve Stoute, founder of Translation Consultation + Brand Imaging. Stoute brought his shit to their door. Not the other way around, by the way.

– According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from January 2008, the advertising field is just 5 percent African American, 3 percent Asian and 8 percent Hispanic or Latino.

– African Americans make up only 3.2 percent of advertising’s upper management in the U.S., well under half of the average of 7.2 percent in similar professions.

Adonis Hoffman, lawyer for the 4A’s told the ad journal that:

“I wouldn’t advise the companies to hunker down. I’d advise them to face this head-on and see what they can do, because it’s an issue that has been bouncing around this industry for a long, long time.”

More: Black Power