TBWA devises tool to connect agencies with diverse vendors

'OneSandbox' search platform aims to find diverse and women-owned creative companies

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Credit: One Sandbox

Ad agencies have come under scrutiny in recent years for their diversity levels (or lack thereof) in their employee and leadership pools. But a less talked-about topic has been diversity among creative vendors that agencies work with.

Omnicom's TBWA/Worldwide has created a new resource aimed at making it a lot easier for agencies and brands to find minority suppliers in the advertising world. The goal is to give those businesses a leg up as agencies build more inclusive supply chains.

The new site, OneSandbox, is a membership-based search platform that allows agencies to connect with diverse and women-owned creative vendors that can bid on projects. Agencies or brands seeking to work with women-, multicultural-, Hispanic-, LGBT- or veteran-owned businesses, for instance, will be able to use the site to identify vendors to help with anything from casting and set design to translation or animatronics.

OneSandbox is launching with ten "charter" agencies — which include TBWA\Chiat\Day, The Integer Group, GMR Marketing, Eventive, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, The Collective, TBWA\Worldhealth, Nissan United, 180LA, Designory and Engage. Eventually TBWA plans to roll out the platform for all Omnicom agencies, then open up membership to agencies outside of the holding company.

Doug Melville, TBWA North America's chief diversity officer, says the resource is meant to support diversity in the industry beyond the agency's own walls. Though the site is meant to be a living and ever-widening resource, TBWA started by going through the minority-owned vendors it had worked with in the last two years that the agency wanted to recommend to others.

"We've used them, we know they're good — or great — and we want them to have more opportunities," he says. Melville says making the information about vetted, high-quality resources available and easy to navigate removes some of the barriers to hiring these diverse suppliers.

The site also includes information about diversity and inclusion-themed conferences, awards shows and news.

Creative consultancy Bravely helped TBWA build the OneSandbox website. Bravely's president and chief experience officer Shane Santiago says this kind of resource can give shops like his own an in with agencies.

"Smaller agencies like ourselves really need a pipeline to showcase our talent," he says. "Oftentimes once you get that first project or two, it can turn into a long-term relationship."

OneSandbox joins a number of platforms and communities seeking to help minority suppliers gain new business. Free the Bid, for instance, was launched to encourage the industry to give women directors more consideration when it comes to ad work. Agency Spotter also has a filter for minority-owned or women-owned businesses. Santiago says a platform that is tightly focused on the ad industry is especially useful for shops like his since it's likely to be more focused and specific — some platforms send out requests for proposals for work across many industries.

Rob Schwartz, CEO of TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, says hiring diverse suppliers isn't just a feel-good decision — it's good business. "These are fresh eyes and fresh voices," he says, adding that casting a wider net for vendors is likely to mean agencies and brands are "going to wind up with something fresh with their creative product."

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