While brands and advertisers are spending more than ever before to reach diverse, multicultural audiences, industry experts say the money often does not reach minority-owned and led businesses. To talk about these issues, Ad Age rounded up agency brand and media experts from across the industry. Here’s what our panelists had to say as the conversation around race, diversity and inclusion in advertising and marketing continues. (Scroll down to watch the complete discussion.)
1. Minorities still aren’t reaping the benefits of increased media buys
Shante Bacon, founder and CEO of One/35 Agency, says the ad industry’s financial commitments to diversity and minority investment often do not reach the intended groups, and is instead wasted on feel-good compliance. “If the 8 billion dollars that was spent in the diversity complex actually went out to people of color, and not just in checking boxes, you might be able to understand what’s going on,” she says.
Others in the industry point to systemic problems that feed a vicious cycle. “Believe it or not, we’re sometimes able to get more from white-owned agencies than Black-owned agencies because the Black-owned agencies fear they’re going to lose their budgets,” says L. Londell McMillan, executive publisher, The Source.
“The system isn’t broken, the system was built that way,” says Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Proctor & Gamble. “We have to disrupt and dismantle the system.” Pritchard also says media is oftentimes bought programmatically, and correcting the system can also mean reconsidering the “plumbing,” or how media systems are wired together.
2. Authenticity shines through ... but so does insincerity
Corporate America’s approach to BIPOC culture can sometimes be exploitive. “We are not a holiday, we are not a celebrity experience,” says Bacon. “There’s many layers to black culture and latinx culture, to any kind of culture, but you have to have that genuine curiosity.”Indeed, lip service to diversity can oftentimes backfire, turning audiences away from brands. “it’s been very clear sometimes that people didn’t have their motives in the right place,” says Linda Ong, CEO and founder of Cultique and founder of Protector Coalition. She says the moment can be used either as an opportunity to inform the client, or even educating the client by declining the opportunity altogether.