‘Quit’ This: Ad Industry Indictment Hits Home

In “Why I Quit,” a presumably black ad executive expressed his swan song [A&C, Jan. 14]. He lamented five initiatives for change in the advertising industry. He pleaded that agency staffers stop backstabbing, race baiting, sucking up to clients and cutting corners and that they simply “grow up.”

He also diminished advertising to mere hucksterism, decrying the craft as “manipulation for profit,” and suggesting everything we earn is “all dirty money.”

The author, proudly claiming a life that led from the “streets to the suites,” does not speak for all of black America in advertising. Indeed, the disproportionate number of blacks and other minorities in advertising are often more educated than their white counterparts. There are a number of high-level black creatives that I know personally who have graduate degrees in addition to their undergraduate degrees from their accredited private schools.

Earl Graves, the very successful black media mogul and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, wrote a book in the mid-’90s called How to Succeed in Business Without Being White that addresses this issue in detail: Blacks have to be prepared to play the game despite the challenges of racism.

The personality quirks that exist in the ad industry exist in all business, and there really is no quick fix. The author of this article apparently represents an economically disadvantaged individual who beat the odds. We should be thankful for that, not embittered by the seemingly impregnable wall of white indifference.

To paraphrase Earl Graves’ eloquent charge to all people: We have a responsibility to our children … to stand in harm’s way.

Benier Koranache

Principal, creative director

Benier Koranache Ltd.

New York

Hadji Williams’ “Why I Quit” was right on the money. Thanks to Williams for saying what so many of us are afraid to say. Kudos on reason No. 1, “Ditch the CYA.” Yet, I’m afraid it’s part of our culture.

As far as reason No. 2, “End the whitewash,” this is America—corporate America at that. Until we all fess up to the racism thing, advertising and its whitewash will continue to be as American as apple pie.

Chris Williams
Manager, broadcast services
Southfield, Mich.