Agencies Will Examine FCC Racism Charge

Ad agency lobby groups plan to pressure shops and clients to rethink the way media is bought following a Federal Communications Commission report accusing the industry of racism.
“We’re asking the industry to look closely at its advertising practices and see where the incongruities lie,” said Wally Snyder, president of the American Advertising Federation. The FCC found that advertisers routinely discriminate against minority-owned broadcasters and stations with large black and Hispanic audiences, either by not buying media or refusing to pay the same rates non-minority stations charge.
Snyder will meet with FCC Chairman William Kennard, advertisers and the heads of agencies and media services Feb. 22 to encourage more workplace diversity and a greater understanding of the economic clout of minorities.
Senior executives from Young & Rubicam and The Media Edge are also expected to attend a meeting in New York today with the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the AAF, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the Asian American Business Development Center. In June, Sharpton used Y&R as a backdrop for announcing a “war on Madison Avenue racism” after the appearance of a Katz Media memo that instructed buyers to avoid buying time on radio stations with largely non-white audiences.
“Young & Rubicam has long been a leader in multicultural advertising and ethnic media spending. Last year alone, we placed over $150 million in advertising in ethnic and minority-owned media,” said a Y&R representative.
Not everyone agrees that discrimination is rife. John Kamp, senior vice president of the 4A’s, said some clients advertise on mainstream stations to reach the widest audience. “That doesn’t mean you don’t care about a black or Hispanic station,” Kamp said. “You are [just] trying to get the most efficient buy.”–with Andrew McMains