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I read with interest and some sense of deja vu your Special Report on Diversity (AA, Feb. 16). It's encouraging to see that New York agencies are implementing minority internship programs, as well as looking at ways to retain minority associates.

The article also caused me to reflect how many of us thought that "things were changing" for minorities in advertising back in 1980, when I joined J. Walter Thompson Co. as an assistant account executive.

After 18 years, sadly, some of the issues remain the same.

Based on your report, there are still relatively small numbers of racial minorities in agency management, even in the richly "diverse" areas of New York, Washington and Chicago.

The concept is a simple one: Broaden the talent pool and benefit from the results. Some client companies understand that concept and their employee populations reflect it. The market researchers told us years ago that the population, or "melting pot," was changing; but maybe ad agency management didn't want to believe them.

Today, we still have the concerns that many of my contemporaries hoped were being dealt with in the '80s. In Charlotte, N.C., we've begun to make some real progress. After senior roles at NationsBank and Duke Energy, I'm excited about my new opportunity to affect the industry, since becoming a partner at this agency.

It was good to see that your report included, as it should have, some of the black pioneers in this business: Caroline Jones, Byron Lewis and Earl Graves. Caroline Jones taught me the value of networking -- before it became a household phrase -- and I know she has personally been responsible for many young people, both black and white, becoming successful advertising professionals.

I guess we will consider real progress has been made when it is not a rarity that a black person is a partner in a "majority" ad agency.

Maybe that won't take another 18 years.

Linda Lockman-Brooks

Partner and senior VP

Elberson Senger Schuler

Charlotte, N.C.

P&G: not involved

I read with interest the Feb. 23 front page article stating that Procter & Gamble Co. and several other companies are in discussions to form a consortium to invest in Nielsen Media and SRI's Smart ("Alliance eyed to merge ratings rivals"). While I can't speak to the veracity of the story overall, I can say that, where P&G is concerned, your story is pure fiction. A simple phone call asking us for verification would have prevented this error.

Denis F. Beausejour

VP-advertising, Procter & Gamble Co.


Editor's note: Advertising Age stands by its story.

Do as Romans did

I very much enjoyed the ad for Caesars Palace (above) featured in the "Attitudes" section (Landmarks, AA, Dec. 22). Inspiration can come from anywhere, and I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Keebler, the art director, drew on a visual memory from a college course on Roman art.

The ad is a clever and fanciful reinterpretation of a scene from the Column of Trajan, erected in Rome by the Emperor himself in 113 A.D. to commemorate his victory over the Dacians (modern Romania).

The scene in question shows Roman soldiers building a fort, lifting and placing building blocks and striking poses not unlike the figures in the ad.

Trajan would have been pleased to see his greatest monument live on and, as he was considered a risk taker and gambler most of his life, where could be more fitting than in Las Vegas.

Hail Caesar!

Thomas Groves

Chief planning officer

(and former art history teacher)

Warwick Baker O'Neill

New York

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