'White' Agencies Are 'Biased, Greedy, Stupid'
Writing on TalentZoo as a guest columnist, copywriter, brand consultant and author Hadji Williams brings to light the rampant dismissal among major agencies of multicultural advertising and explains how "ethnic" agencies are brought in by AOR's at the last minute to black/Latino/Asian-ize campaigns only to have them end up looking stupid and perpetuating stereotypes. It's an insightful examination of the practice and one I can admit to engaging in having done my fair share of minimizing the importance of the ethnic portion of a campaign.
It's no secret the U.S. agency business is made up of almost entirely of whites who have no idea what other cultures are like outside their own. That part's not a fault. You live where you live and you know what you know. What's at fault is the apparent disregard for the existence of other cultures and the current practice of multicultural marketing which, according to Burrell Communications' Tom Burrell amounts to treating black people as white people with black skin and Brand Central Station's Mike Bawden calls dysfunctional.
Williams writes, "White agencies hate sharing their AOR status with each other never mind with 'targeted' agencies," which in this cut throat business is not surprising. As much as we'd all like to believe we live in this beautiful thing they call a melting pot, we're not all the same and cultural differences will always exist. It's not easy to embrace that because it boils down to fear. Fear of inability to comfortably relate to a culture other than one's own. Fear of looking stupid in front of one's client or boss when discussing a culture other that your own.
The solution to the vexing problem is not easy but one word provides a starting point: trust. Trust that you are not the smartest person in the room. Trust that other culture's are likely entirely different than anything you know about them. Trust that there are people with knowledge of cultures other than one's own that, rather than stealing one's client's business, can help build that business. Trust. It's an easy word to say. Not so easy to put into practice. But columns like Williams' help put change into motion.