By Published on .

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he is willing to cooperate with agencies and marketers in order to win ad dollars for minority media, but noted he expects quick results.

Closing the Invitational Summit on Multicultural Markets & Media last week, the Rev. Sharpton said the speed that marketers' minority-media spending approaches minorities' usage of their products is his standard for judging improvement.

"We are talking about where [media dollars] reflect the marketplace," he said at a press conference that capped the Jan. 18 forum in New York co-sponsored by the Rev. Sharpton's National Action Network, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the Asian American Business Development Center, in cooperation with major ad groups.

His timetable for results: The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday next year.

"We do not intend to have an empty ceremonial event," he said. "We do not need a good cosmetic color. We need an economic rearrangement."


Earl Graves Jr., publisher of Black Enterprise, said the targeting of minorities should be an "imperative" rather than a "this-should-keep-Sharpton-from-calling" plan.

The Rev. Sharpton praised ad groups that "have come forward to deal with the issue rather than go backward and try to deny or finger point."

Speakers at the conference cited statistics showing minority media with higher ratings than white-owned media were getting fewer ad dollars and were selling their time and space at lower prices. They called for increased employment of minorities at ad agencies and increased use of minority-owned ad agencies.

Mr. Graves and others suggested that minority agencies know minority media best and need to be hired and given decent budgets with which to work.

"You cannot give them sideshow dollars and expect the main event," he said.

$1 VS. 71 cents

Kofi Ofori, author of a new Federal Communications Commission study (AA, Jan. 18), said advertisers and media buyers who pay $1 per listener for general-market radio stations pay 78 cents per listener for minority-formatted stations-and 71 cents per listener for minority-owned and -formatted stations.

Jean Pool, exec VP-media at J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, who attended the meeting, told Advertising Age one reason minority media could be underbought is the decision by marketers to set aside money for a minority agency, then telling its main consumer agencies to buy other kinds of media.

Mr. Ofori cited complaints from broadcast stations that advertisers use household incomes as a shortcut for predicting consumer spending, despite research indicating the two may not be related.


He also said that some tourism marketers are avoiding pitches to African-Americans due to the fear that appeals to minority consumers could turn off white customers.

Kathryn Alexander, president of research company K.A. Enterprises, said some advertisers failed to realize the complexity and differences in the African-American market, which she noted includes Caribbean-Americans and the hip-hop generation, each needing differing ad messages.

Jeff Yang, publisher of A Magazine targeting Asian-Americans, said advertisers commonly fail to understand that with the decrease in immigration from Asian countries, "the hand-holding, flag-waving" messages that at one time might have been enough to woo first-generation Asian-Americans have to be replaced with more sophisticated campaigns aimed at a second generation of Asian-Americans.

Marketers and agency executives attending the conference said they hoped the meeting would be useful, although they generally were non-committal.

"It was a very helpful conference," said Bob Wehling, global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble Co.

He said the nation's largest advertiser "has been and will continue to be committed to reaching all the diverse elements of our consumer base in culturally appropriate ways to the best of our ability. A substantial number of our brands are actively engaged in advertising to the African-American and Hispanic markets, and we're going to continue to explore better ways to accomplish our goals."

Chuck Fruit, VP-media and presence markets at Coca-Cola Co., called the meeting "a good start." The message he took away from the conference, he said, was that marketers shouldn't set aside a multicultural budget but instead "spend with us in proportion to our spending power."

Most Popular
In this article: