But by and large the need for coordinated industry action on this front has mostly been just talk. Until now.
What's different is that Jay Chiat has put some money on the table, a clear and dramatic signal that it's time for the ad industry to ante up.
The chairman of Chiat/Day, speaking at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, bluntly stated: "Advertising is not welcoming people of color."
But instead of simply urging positive recruitment policies, Mr. Chiat pledged $100,000 over four years to start a multimillion-dollar fund to recruit and train talented men and women from the nation's minorities.
What he wants is for the top 20 agencies to match his pledge, the next 30 to pony up $50,000 and the smaller shops to pledge $10,000.
While we're aware of the way government often errs in trying to solve deep-rooted problems by throwing (our) money at them, we think this is one area where the investment can pay off.
We all know about the complaints that few minority candidates for advertising careers come forward, that marketing is not the first choice of minority youth who make it to college. So the industry must become an active recruiter and offer candidates whatever training is needed. That takes money.
The payoff is an infusion of people of all colors into the fast-changing world of advertising and marketing-people who can help advertisers reach out to all consumers more effectively, not only to sell goods but finally to help dispel the notion in some segments of our society that advertising is "them vs. us."