BBDO Partners With One Club on One-Year Diversity Residency

The Agency Tapped Five Young Creatives From The One Club's Diversity Initiatives

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(L to R) BBDO residents Sheue-Fang Lee, Shayne Alexander, Bennett D. Bennett, Kayla Robinson and Chris Vega.
(L to R) BBDO residents Sheue-Fang Lee, Shayne Alexander, Bennett D. Bennett, Kayla Robinson and Chris Vega. Credit: The One Club

The One Club is partnering with BBDO on a residency program that helps young multicultural creatives get a foot in the door.

While speaking at the One Club's "Here Are All the Black People" career fair last year, BBDO Chief Creative Officer David Lubars decided he was going to tackle adland's diversity shortage -- which he has called "frickin' embarrassing" -- head-on with a creative residency program. The program, simply called "Creative Residency," offers benefits and a year of employment at BBDO's New York office.

JD Michaels, exec VP-director of diversity and creative engineering at BBDO New York, said Mr. Lubars didn't take a corporate approach to creating the program. "He just said, 'I'm just going to go hire some great people,'" Mr. Michaels said.

Promises to tackle the ad industry's diversity issue aren't hard to come by, but, said Traecy Smith, director of diversity at the One Club. "David actually did it. That level of commitment is the same level of commitment we're putting into our programs."

The young people all had some level of experience to start. One is a three-time One Club boot-camp participant, and another is a Stanford graduate. Mr. Michaels said he looked for spirit, focus, tenacity and drive in the interviewing process, adding that the residency isn't an internship or fellowship, but a real opportunity to keep full-time employment after the year.

After four months of working for BBDO, all residents have contributed to accounts. Mr. Michaels and Karla Gray Mayers, exec VP-director of diversity & supplier diversity at the agency, were the first mentors for the residents when they started their year. Quickly, Mr. Michaels said, each resident bonded with their teams and found mentors on their own.

The residents "are literally employees here; it's not a 'lite' program," Mr. Michaels said. "They've been dropped into a job that we're very proud to say they're all excelling in."

The One Club's boot camps began in China and spread to the U.S. after success there, Ms. Smith said. There are nine boot camps every year, including one in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Raleigh, Austin, San Francisco, and Atlanta, as well as London and Cape Town, South Africa.

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