ANA Blasted for Separate Ethnic Conference

Big Decision Makers Unlikely to Turn Out Twice in 3 Weeks
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Association of National Advertisers’ plan to hold its first multicultural conference sparked criticism last week as the event will be held two weeks after its main meeting, where all the most powerful decision makers will be.
Top executives like John Pepper, chairman of the board of Procter & Gamble, and Robert Herbold, executive vice president and CEO of Microsoft, are not likely to attend the conference on multiculturalism (Oct. 24-26 in Naples, Fla.) after they speak at ANA’s annual gathering, held last weekend until Tuesday in Amelia Island, Fla.
“If you are not attracting the main decision makers, it is all for show,” said Louis Carr, executive vice president of broadcast media for Black Entertainment Television. “Separate but equal does not work.” Carr said ANA’s decision is sending a signal that “ethnic audiences are not a primary concern, but a secondary concern.”
ANA defended itself, arguing that a separate forum would allow corporate executives time to focus on the topic. “If there is any suggestion that we are not treating this seriously, that is just not accurate,” said Dan Jaffe, ANA’s executive vice president. “We are trying to impart skills that will be useful in the marketplace.”
Saul Gitlin, vice president of strategic marketing services at Kang & Lee Advertising, Young & Rubicam’s shop specializing in Asian American audiences, commended the ANA for holding the conference. “One can argue that multicultural marketing needs to be dealt with in a unique venue because even experienced marketers know little about it,” Gitlin said. But, he added, “I have concerns that stand-alone conferences reflect the corporate structure where multicultural marketing is kept separate from the main marketing departments.”
Speakers at ANA’s multicultural conference include John Porpora, director of corporate advertising at Metropolitan Life Insurance; Byron Lewis, chairman of the UniWorld Group, a minority ad agency; and Jill Rahman, director of ethnic marketing at Kraft Foods.