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NYC Pol: Arrest Those Missing Diversity Hearing

From Advertising Age:

NYC Official Slams Ad Agency Execs for Skipping Diversity Hearing

Exclusive Ad Age Video Report From Tuesday’s Council Session

By Matthew Creamer

September 26, 2006

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook blasted ad agencies who failed to show today for a public hearing on minority-owned media, saying they "ran like chickens with their asses plucked clean," and suggested a subpoena might compel them to do so in the future.

‘Relegated to leftovers’

Madison Avenue, under fire for its failure to build diverse workplaces, was also slapped today for not buying enough ads in media outlets owned by African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities. In hearings at City Hall, media owners and City Council members blasted the industry for what one described as an environment where these outlets are "devalued and relegated to leftovers." But it wasn’t just media plans that got the goat of the council. What raised the council’s ire and brought out some of the loudest verbal fireworks was the decision by agency executives not to show up and testify, a move that could ultimately lead to more hearings…

‘It’s disrespectful’

Councilwoman Letitia James said the decision was "an affront to the City Council. We’re pretty offended by this. It’s disrespectful."

But that did little to ease the concerns of the media owners. Following a presentation by a Verizon government-affairs executive touting the company’s diversity record, Elinor Tatum, editor-publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, questioned Verizon’s commitment to minority-owned media. She said that in her paper’s case Verizon bought a couple ads every January and February to coincide with Black History Month and Martin Luther King’s birthday.

"It seems like black newspapers exist only in January and February," Ms. Tatum said.

List of grievances

Overall, a long list of grievances was aired, ranging from the fact that multicultural agencies are often subcontractors and thus control a small slice of ad budgets to the fact that those budgets often are relatively tiny set-asides and don’t come out of general-marketing budgets….

Mr. Seabrook, who brokered an agreement with Omnicom Group, the largest ad-agency holding company, to provide more than $2 million toward a diversity program, has been trying to broaden the debate beyond workplace issues to include matters such as media spending. Last week, four Omnicom-owned agencies followed shops from WPP Group, Interpublic Group of Cos. and Publicis Groupe in settling with the Human Rights Commission, agreeing to set and report minority-hiring and promotion goals.

Lest we forget, we were repeatedly promised in the salad days of the Civil Rights movement that there would never be quotas. Ever.

Now they are everywhere.

(There is a video of Mr. Seabrook’s insightful remarks at the link.)

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 27th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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