Procter & Gamble Co. is joining Grey Midwest and other Cincinnati-based creative agencies to launch Huenited, a non-profit group that aims to increase diversity in the city’s marketing and creative community by reaching out to high school and college students through scholarships, internships, mentoring and advocacy.
Most diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the marketing industry have been company-specific, national and focused on one part of the business – i.e. agencies or marketers. Huenited takes a different tack with a cross-industry effort in one city. Huenited, also initially led by executives from marketing and branding shops Katalyst Group and Hyperquake, aims to expose students to creative career options, plus offer mentorship, scholarships and internships to bring them into the industry.
“You can’t choose to pursue a career that you don’t know exists,” said Procter & Gamble Co. Design VP Tysonn Betts, who’s president of Huenited. “So the more we can expose students and their parents to the viability of creative careers the more likely we can get students to pursue them.”
The ad industry’s focus on diversity issues spiked last year in the wake of racial justice protests following George Floyd’s murder. But discussions that led to Huenited actually started a year earlier following a discussion Betts was part of at Brandemonium, a Cincinnati marketing conference.
Jamie Grady, treasurer of Huenited and senior VP of finance and operations for WPP’s Grey Midwest, approached Betts and Sean Rugless, president of Katalyst and now VP of Huenited, after the two were part of a Brandemonium forum on diversity in the creative community. Those discussions led to Huenited being founded this year. The group will be formally introduced in a presentation this week at an all-virtual version of Brandemonium.
“The idea was born of creating a collective, bringing together all of the marketing and advertising agencies in town and as many of the big clients we have that purchase these services,” Grady said. “If we can pull together all our energy, intelligence and money, we might actually be able to make some significant change in the industry within the city.”