The initiatives include a new awards program.
"We have not exactly led the way in minority or diversity hiring," said Ralph Rydholm, Four A's chairman and CEO of Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago. "If we don't reflect the cultural diversity around us, we're no longer going to have relevant communications."
The Four A's has helped set up the non-profit Four A's Foundation to solicit donations and award scholarships. While officially independent of the Four A's, the foundation will operate in cooperation with the association.
The Four A's Foundation awarded two $5,000 scholarships to Virginia Commonwealth University students last month to kick off the scholarship program.
The foundation will ask the 20 largest agencies to put up $10,000 each annually for the next five years for similar scholarships, to be awarded by individual agencies to students at colleges of their choice.
Also, the foundation will receive $10,000 annually from the Four A's, money that will likely go toward scholarships, said Four A's President-CEO O. Burtch Drake, who's also president of the foundation.
In addition, the foundation will receive funding through charitable donations, though this money can be earmarked for other uses, such as ad research.
NUMBER OF AWARDS TO JUMP
The Four A's has restructured its annual awards program substantially in another effort to raise funds for the foundation. The number of Four A's awards to agencies will jump from three to 28 next year, with new awards being given for outstanding creative work in product-specific categories, multicultural advertising and public service advertising.
The awards-to be known as the O'Tooles, after the late John O'Toole, former Four A's president-will be presented at a Jan. 15 dinner in New York. Formerly the awards were called the A+ Creative awards and the John O'Toole Advertiser Award.
All proceeds from the new event will go toward the foundations' scholarship fund.