The Ad Club of New York Talks Diversity

By Patrick Coffee 

We know what diversity is not, but as Jezebel founder Anna Holmes opined in The New York Times last weekend, the word almost feels like it has lost all meaning despite–or maybe even because of–all the attention it has received lately. This week, The Ad Club of New York, along with its agency and media partners, wants to help change that.

Holmes writes that a majority of people who work in publishing and tech notice no real change in the makeup of their industry despite all the initiatives focusing on changing that particular ratio. The same is obviously true of advertising, hence the week-long #imPARTofDIVERSITY campaign. The project, which the Ad Club launched a few years ago, focuses on a very real need to “Promote, Attract, Retain and Train,” with the “diverse talent” part implied.

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about this topic what with the week’s 3 Percent Conference and its newly-announced diversity certification service (along with the LOL-worthy 97 percent Twitter account).


The Ad Club campaign includes pro bono work by social agency Attention, image platform Snaps and creative shop Eleven. It’s doing pretty well on Twitter and a bit less so on Instagram and Facebook thanks in large part to the filter created by Snaps (you have to click here to use it).

A good one from Keni Thacker of J. Walter Thompson:

The campaign also includes some thought leadership pieces from noted figures like Sandra Sims-Williams of Publicis, who writes that more diverse agencies will also be better equipped to adapt to clients’ needs. We know of at least one executive who would agree.

We ourselves are not part of diversity as we are painfully white and male and old, even! But it’s really about the sentiment, isn’t it? Cases in point: ipg diversity

Some agencies have taken the “we’re all in this together” approach by simply stating that they agree with the basic concept. And we trust them. Why wouldn’t we?!

But what’s the ultimate goal of this project? Attention president Tom Buontempo writes:

“We want to leverage social media to rally individuals behind a movement that is important not only in our industry, but in all industries.”

So the conversation will continue with most parties agreeing on what needs to happen. Many will inevitably disagree, however, on whether this amounts to progress.

And it’s obviously not just an ad agency problem. As Chuck Porter recently noted, the PR industry has defeated advertising in some sort of secret war–and that business has its own, completely different diversity challenges.

For the time being, though, the general sentiment regarding advertising’s efforts to address this shortcoming is “Not great, Bob!”

not great bob