Aldo Agostinelli

Accused of having always preferred an external communication model and an internal organizational model based on the white-traditionalist-alpha man stereotype, marketing agencies have been forced by the BLM movement to reveal their policies concerning diversity, inclusion and support to minorities talents. And to act accordingly. Here is what happened.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) earthquake: after the murder of 46 year-old George Perry Floyd, on May 25 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protests and riots have caused a havoc not only on the streets and on social media but across very diverse sectors, from fashion to sport and even advertising.

Let’s make an example: the Redskins have decided to change their name in favor of a new one not hinting at racism and slaughter (the Washington football team logo is the profile of a native American man).

And driven by sponsors, advertisers and the public opinion, even the world of advertising has got to the point of rethinking the strategies to be adopted to deal with issues (internal  and external) such as inequity and discrimination.

Major advertising agencies are converting to inclusion

Having long  been accused of being slow (not to say reluctant) at acting, the big names of the advertising industry have had to give in to the pressure applied by the Black Lives Matter movement and accelerate the change.

The first to act were the UK agencies which, in an open letter, invited everybody to open their eyes about systemic racism and to start facing the problem.

A “Call for Change” ensued, signed by six thousand professionals of balck advertising defining a 12-step-change plan.

And finally, the holding companies hosting some of the biggest advertising agencies in the world followed, too.

Not only good intentions

The Drum has summarized the actions which the agencies intend to carry out to get out of this self-imposed cul-de-sac. Here are some examples:

  • WPP has announced to have invested over 30 million dollars into inclusion programmes, in addition to committing to applying the 12 steps aimed at fighting race-based inequity and promoting talents belonging to minorities. They have also committed to implement digital marketing strategies only for brands and partners applying equity programmes within their organizations.
  • Havas has launched a media marketplace representing publishers belonging to black, Hispanic, LGBTQ + and other publishers belonging to minorities.
  • Publicis committed to promote the careers of black people within its organization through structured programmes, and personalized tutoring and coaching plans.  Moreover, it has devoted 45 million Euros over a 3-year period to support training and development programmes and apprenticeships  for NGOs and organizations fighting against racism and social inequities (Black Lives Matter: what have advertising’s biggest agencies promised?)

What commercials are we going to watch?

All of the above refers to advertising agencies internal organization, but what about advertising itself? Are online and offline commercials, videos and banners going to be more respectful of race-ethnic and gender differences?
We need to wait for the current emotional upsurge to be over to find out whether advertising will actually have changed deeply and for the better or whether it has only covered in bright paint decades of mistakes and discriminations.

What about it? Will good intentions translate into actions? Is the world of advertising  actually changing? Tweet @agostinellialdo.

If you liked this post, you may also like “ Covid2019 and advertising: three possible scenarios

Aldo Agostinelli