Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current, June 19, 1975, Page 27, Image 27

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    Portland Observer
June 19,
Section I I Page 19
Affirmative action in advertising
Vernon Jordan
T h r advertising industry is
one that deals in image. aellifcg
ideas and new ronrepls. but it
badly needs to sell itself the
Mies of affirmative artion.
Some people remember the
tremendous battle it took just
to get a Black actor or actress
into a commercial. Despite all
the prophecies of doom at the
lime, many commercials are
now fully integrated and. if
anything, it's helped sales.
But it also has deceived
many people into thinking
there .is equal employment
opportunity in the industry
and that's false.
Next time you see a Black
actor or actress on a television
commercial, be aware that the
cost of that person's services
is a liny fraction of the total
money involved in producing
and marketing that piece of
film Just about every dollar
of that total goes to white
employees and white media.
There are about 25 million
Black |*eople with a total
purchasing power of about $«0
billion annually, so it seems to
me that the industry ran make
more of an effort to employ
Blacks and to place ads in
Black media which is being
squeezed by economic factors
This is important for Black
people to understand
Black media is a basic avenue
of com m unications among
Blacks and it depends for its
fate upon advertising decisions
made by advertising agencies
and business executives,
laist year the industry's
billings came to »13.8 billion,
moat of it going to television,
the rest to radio, magazines
and inserts and newspapers.
Black oriented media got only
about $100 million of that
advertising volume, less than
one percent.
This is true despite the fact
th a t
B la c k
c o n s u m e rs
generated about
dollars for the advertising
I t is only fair that
of that
returned to the Black com
munity in the form of ads in
Black oriented media.
good business,
Blacks are simply not reached
by the same television pro
grams and magaz.ines patro
nized by whites. The adver
tising industry prides itself on
the sophistication of its mar
ketiqg research, yet it per
sistently refuses to recognize
that Blacks comprise a market
that needs to be reached
both the general
media like the daily news
paper, and through specialized
media, like the Black weekly.
The industry
has fallen
down on its hiring policies too.
Believe it or not. its own
figures show that its numbers
of minority professionals have
actually declined within the
last five years.
In too many agencies.
Blacks are invisible in the top
jobs. I recently attended the
Annual Meeting of the Amen
can Association of Advertising
Agencies and 1 could have
counted the number of Blacks
there on the fingers of one
Some industry leaders are
pushing ahead with affirms
live artion policies to hire
more minorities. Indeed, the
very biggest agencies have
increased their employment
But there is still a feeling
among some executives that
they can't really expose a
client to a Black decision
maker in their agency. This
attitude reminds me of the old
battle over getting Blacks on
screen in commercials
men thought their clients
would drop the account if it
Well they didn't.
And I
doubt very much if any client
would object to dealing with a
Black executive today.
fact. I suspect some clients,
especially those with Blacks in
ex ec u tive positions them
selves, would begin to worry if
they didn't see any Blacks
around in professional jobs in
the agency.
They would
rightly wonder if the agency is
capable of selling the product
to Blacks. When you consider
that Black buyers can spell life
or death for some products,
that's a big factor.
For an industry that's so
typically American, and so
deeply involved in
ideas and creativity, advertis
mg ought to be a leader, not a
IaKKard. in dealing equitably
with Black people.
< FredMeycr
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òsso n .
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