600 Black Ad Pros Call for Change; Mary Wells Lawrence Earns Lion of St. Mark: Wednesday’s First Things First

Plus, should you cancel your Facebook advertising account?

Black agency professionals have an unequivocal response for U.S. advertising agencies: release your diversity data and reform your practices now. - Credit by Kacy Burdette
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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600 Black Advertising Professionals Demand Meaningful Action From Leadership in Open Letter

More than 600 Black employees from nearly every major agency in the U.S. are signatories an open letter requesting urgent and meaningful action from leadership at those agencies. The letter provides 12 steps that leaders can take immediately to make the industry more equitable—measures that go beyond words and one-off symbolic actions.

The initiative was spearheaded by Nathan Young of Minneapolis-based agency Periscope and Bennett D. Bennett of creative consultancy Aerialist. “Now that we have their attention,” Young said, “we’re going to make it clear, as a collective, the exact steps that we want agencies to take to remedy the systemic racism that exists in our industry.”

Those steps include making “a specific, measurable, and public commitment to improve Black representation,” especially in leadership roles; annually reporting on workplace diversity; extending outreach for staff, residents and interns to more diverse institutions and those who took non-traditional paths; and creating panels and committees to address agency policies and prevent the publication of culturally insensitive work.

Discover more: Read the full list of provisions here, and read more from Young and Bennett on how the initiative came together.

  • Related: Bianca Reed of Rain the Growth Agency further delved into the subject of fueling diversity in the industry, especially in the future: “Start with a conversation,” she writes. “Make time on your calendar, make yourself available on LinkedIn and give yourself a tangible goal to have conversations with people of color who are trying to break into your industry.”

Mary Wells Lawrence Will Be the First Woman to Win Cannes Lions’ Lifetime Achievement Award

The career of 92-year-old industry icon Mary Well Lawrence has been crowned with the Lion of St. Mark, making her the first woman to receive the prestigious lifetime achievement award since its creation in 2011. It’s not the first time the legendary Lawrence has shattered glass ceilings in the industry: She is both the first woman to ever found, own and fun a major ad agency, and the first woman to become CEO of a company traded through the New York Stock Exchange.

Revel in her victories: Her award-studded work legacy includes some of the most recognizable ads of all time.

Opinion | I Canceled Facebook Advertising and You Should, Too

After deactivating the company’s Facebook advertising account last year, Braze CMO Sara Spivey planned to reactivate it for a new campaign. But in light of Facebook’s lack of response to Trump inciting violence on the platform (and its employees’ subsequent protest), she elected to cancel the campaign. “It’s incumbent on each of us to consider the human impact of the decisions we make every day,” she writes. Instead, the budget that would have gone to the campaign will be reallocated to organizations acting toward positive change.

Still, there’s more work to be done: “Actions like a Facebook ad boycott aren’t meaningful unless they’re paired with concrete work at home,” Spivey writes.

What Marketers Should Know About How Covid-19 Is Changing Gen C as Consumers

Marketers are evolving to meet Generation C, the kids and teens under 16 who have now seen the pandemic transform the world. That means focusing on increased demand for kids digital entertainment, with video game brands like Fortnite and Roblox expanding their horizons with virtual in-game events. These kids also have more household purchasing power than previous generations, participating in both online and in-store shopping, which will require the industry to rethink these interactions for this young cohort.

Marketing responsibly: Reaching kids means ensuring appropriate privacy protections.

Consumers Want Brands to Take a Moral Stand on Racial Justice, Study Says

A recent study by Edelman found that consumers are counting on brands to take action, and consumers are ready to shift where they spend their money if brands aren’t living up to their expectations. Older consumers think brands have a moral obligation, while younger consumers want brands to stand with them. More than 60% of people say brands will build trust if they take an assortment of actions like acknowledge the problem, advocate for change and educate the public.

The data says: Brands need to take meaningful action. Be the change. Don’t just use hollow words.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

This ‘Broken’ Typeface Symbolizes the Language Barriers Many New Yorkers Face

Working with The&Partnership, Literacy Partners recently created a typeface that highlights the issue of language barriers in the U.S. The “broken” typeface, Sans 18%, illustrates what it’s like to look at a billboard, pamphlet or prescription and not understand it.

hard to read "broken" font


@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.
Publish date: June 10, 2020 https://dev.adweek.com/retail/600-black-ad-pros-call-for-change-mary-wells-lawrence-earns-lion-of-st-mark-wednesdays-first-things-first/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT