McCann Worldgroup Diversity Blog

The 4A’s Media Policy Committee has developed standardized best practices for non-discriminatory vendor policies and procedures.

The 4A’s Media Policy Committee recommends that agencies establish non-discrimination vendor policies and procedures.  To that end the committee developed what they call “an illustrative vendor non-discrimination policy framework that might be incorporated in an agency’s policy manual and employee training materials.”

According to the guidelines, each agency should evaluate their vendor selection practices prior to developing a vendor non-discrimination policy.  In addition, this process should be a part of employee training initiatives to make sure that all employees are made aware of best practices. Since 2006, employees of IPG have participated in diversity training through our code of conduct which we are asked to review and sign each year. The company’s supplier code of conduct, which took effect in July, can be found at IPGVendorPolicy.

The minority media selection issue was raised back in 2007 when the FCC’s Minority Media and Telecom Council created a non-discrimination rule aimed at eliminating the practice of “No Urban Dictates” and “No Spanish Dictates” in which advertisers exclude African American and Hispanic radio stations and other media from being considered for advertising buys. In 2009, BMW’s Mini division canceled urban media plans because their ad agency presumed minorities couldn’t be tempted to buy the cars.  That recommendation got the agency fired.

An important part of the 4A’s best practice guidelines gives minority vendors a complaint review process if they feel excluded by the agency.  The guidelines state, A Vendor that feels it has been the victim of discriminatory buying practices by Agency shall be provided the opportunity to voice its dissatisfaction through Agency’s complaint review process.

Adonis Hoffman, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Advertising and Public Policy at Georgetown University and former general counsel of the 4A’s, called the new guidelines a “starting point” but warned, “There are questions as to whether the agency itself has the capacity to conduct a fair and credible review. Self-regulation in that instance can only go so far. There should be some insurance for retaliation against a minority vendor who raises a red flag. It is human nature to foreclose opportunities on anyone who says you are not playing fair. Ultimately, resolving this problem will hinge on two very simple principles: (1) the decision by agency CEOs to make sure that their down-the-line junior staffers abide by the spirit of the rules, not just the letter, and (2) the decision by agency CEOs to buy minority media, not just tolerate them.”

The FCC’s Minority Media and Telecommunications Council commended the 4A’s for the announcement. “This historic achievement will directly combat the invidious ‘No Urban’ and ‘No Spanish Dictates’ that cost minority broadcasters millions of dollars annually. MMTC understands that 4A’s new policy will extend to all media, including broadcast, print, cable, and online advertising.”

More information can be found at


ImageI was surfing the internet (do people still say that?) for interesting advertising/diversity articles the other day when I came upon a story about “harnessing more diverse digital talent” from the July 2011 issue of New Media Age magazine.  McCann Erickson London’s Managing Director Nick Constantinou took the lead on Platform Live, a project designed to increase diverse digital advertising talent.  Joined by BBH, Grey and TBWA\, creatives were assigned to work with young multicultural talent on a brief supplied by (RED), the global charity that helps women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. (Red)’s head of marketing and communications Mark McGinn said, “For these young people who took part in the event, digital is their world, their arena.  We want to be talking to and learning from these people”.

Nick Constantinou is planning to provide jobs for some of those who took part in the event. He said the “imbedded digital understanding and creative mindsets” of the young people who came from diverse backgrounds, made for compelling ideas. “Not only do they naturally live and breath the digital space so there’s no need to train them, but they are also entrepreneurial,” he said.

After reading the article I contacted Nick to learn more.  “Amazing to work with such young raw inspirational talent. In fact it was quite humbling but we need to do it a lot more often. There is not enough diverse talent in this industry. I’ve also been lucky enough to convince a few people from HyperIsland and Miami Ad School to join recently. The diverse views and natural appreciation of technology is good for McCann”.

Nick, who joined McCann in 2010 from AKQA, calls inclusion “…a subject close to my personal values”.  Describing the higher level of diverse representation in his former shop, Nick said, “Diverse talent (along with lots of perspiration and pizzas!) was a major factor in building an amazing interactive agency with a history of world-class work.  For me, the more diverse, young, hungry and curious talent we have, balanced with a guiding hand from experienced people, the easier it will be to evolve McCann. Providing an environment where talent can truly express themselves and enjoy amazing experiences is the most important part of my role”.

Nice to know that halfway around the world there are people like Nick Constantinou who understand the great business lever that is diversity & inclusion.


Advertising Asks Millennials: Does Diversity Matter?
The American Advertising Federation and General Mills sponsored a thought leadership program entitled “A Millennial Perspective on Diversity & Inclusion”.  The 11/9/11 event, which took place simultaneously in Minneapolis, Chicago, LA, and Washington DC, and New York, consisted of three panels: strategic marketing experts, college students and ad industry mavens. Led by General Mills Director of Multicultural Marketing Rudy Rodriguez, the 1st panel included McCann NY’s Executive Strategic Partner Harjot Singh who leads the planning practice for the General Mills account, Marcus Jimenez head of Huemanitas, Jason Crain an Account Manager at Google, Zandile Blay a Harvard University Fellow and former online editor at, and Pushpa Gopalan the Strategic Planning Director of Leo Burnett USA.  As Harjot Singh brilliantly explained to more than 100 people at the host site in Minneapolis, “(As marketers) we have to be more authentic.  We can’t just put messages out there.  We have to start a conversation.” He urged those assembled to take a critical look at words like “target audience” and “receive messages” that we use in our daily business. Brand marketers need to see millennials as a community that their brand must be invited to be a part of.  In a discussion about the kind of on-line community millennials live in, Marcus Jimenez compared it to his own life where he never loses touch with his Dominican culture, speaking Spanish at home, listening to salsa music in his car, yet in his business life he works on global brands that market to a wide audience of consumers.  He referred to this concept as “existing in two worlds”. But fashion editor and Harvard Fellow Zandile Blay said that thanks to social network sites she has discovered that these two worlds are closer than we think. “I know this is true because my fashion editor friends and my home-girl from high school who got pregnant at 16 hit the “Like” button (on Facebook) for the same things.”

For millennials diversity is the norm but that does not mean they live in a homogeneous world.  Culture is very important.  Social media facilitates living in two worlds allowing Hispanics, Asians and other ethnicities to talk amongst themselves in a way they won’t or can’t in their multicultural lives. Google’s Jason Crain put a finer point on the reason African Americans for example may tune into BET. “It’s not just because they have people who look like me.  It’s because they share my values and I enjoy the content.” Referring to some marketer’s use of a variety of people in their advertising, L’Oreal received high marks from the panel for their use of Beyonce but not all brands get this right. “Rainbow” casting is a dated concept that lacks authenticity.  As consumers, we want to be proud of the brands we buy and this is especially true of millennials who are motivated more by cause than cost.

The panel, made up of advertising agency and media pros who interact with client brand managers and marketing directors every day described the frustration of living in their own two worlds.  These experts say that a disconnect exists between the clients they present to and the audience they are creating messages for. Citing statistics like 1 in 7 marriages in the US is interracial and by 2019 the majority of HS students will be non-white, the panelists decried the difficulty in getting clients to sign off on bold ideas when they don’t see how different the world is today. Their final words can best be summed up by this quote from Harjot Singh, “Education is key.  The more we test new things and pilot new things in the market, the better. We have to be willing to do things that have never been done before.”

The 2nd panel, which took place simultaneously in Minneapolis, Chicago, LA, and Washington DC, and New York, featured students from AAF college chapters.  Participants who took part in the NY panel included students from Pace, Temple, Elon, CCNY, and S.I. Newhouse/Syracuse.  The students were smart, articulate and amazingly at ease as they were interviewed by moderator Adrianne Smith, the managing partner of AdHere Network, before of an audience of more than 80 ad folks.  Their message was heard loud and clear – Don’t talk to us, talk with us and care about the causes we care about.  The 8 panelists agreed that companies like Tom’s Shoes gets it where others do not.  Millennials pay attention to the causes companies support.   Interestingly, they felt that the term “multicultural” did not apply to their lives.  Although the students consistently described a diverse spectrum of friends and classmates, perhaps the word “diversity” seems dated to this generation.

 During the 3rd panel, which included McCann Worldgroup Global Chief Creativity Catalyst Nicole Cramer, McCann Worlgroup’s Social Strategy Lead Daniel Maree, Tangerine/Watson Founder Carol Watson, Digital Filmmaker Mesh Flinders and Strategist Carl Desir, the reaction to the two preceding panels was unanimous – Millennials are different from previous generational cohorts but they are not in conflict with their elders as previous generations have been.  In talking through what are commonly cited as frustrations with this generation, the expert panel pointed out that because millennials are connected to media and available 24 hours a day, they want employers to understand and appreciate their desire for free time to pursue personal projects and causes.  The panelists frequently lapsed into giving the students hard-won advice but they also shared some great advice for marketers.  Echoing the 1st session, their recommendations focused on making the work more entertaining, exploring content driven messages rather than sales pitches and keeping it real.

For more information and other blog posts on the subject go to:

Diwali is the most popular festival in India. It is celebrated across the country with great pageantry in honor of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity!

MRM Detroit is holding a Diwali “Festival of Lights” Celebration complete with culturally traditional food to celebrate the Hindu/Indian “festival of lights”.

The celebration, scheduled for Wednesday, October 26th, will include an introduction to the cultural/historical significance of the holiday.  The most important spiritual meaning of the holiday is to illustrate the awareness of the inner light.

MRM Detroit Hosts Diwali “Festival of Lights” Celebration!

For more information contact

TORCH, which stands for Together Our Resources Can Help, is hosting their annual L.I.G.H.T awards on Wednesday, November 9th from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Marquee 289 Tenth Avenue in NYC.  TORCH is dedicated to transforming the lives of under-served New York City public high school students by providing intensive exposure to career training and opportunities in communications and the arts, all while facilitating a meaningful way of increasing the diversity of the workforce in those industries.  Many successful graduates of the program, started in 1999, enjoy successful careers in some of the biggest ad agencies and digital shops.  If you can’t make it to the benefit, you can get involved by hiring a TORCH intern this summer.

Click on the link to purchase tickets.

City College of NY Campus

Michael Roth addressed a diverse group of City College of NY (CCNY) advertising and PR students on October 21st as part of the school’s Lunch With Leaders program.  Roth, a graduate of CCNY’s Baruch College, took the students through an executive summary of IPG holdings explaining the variety of expertise at hand at the 100 or so operating units. In describing the direction he has set for the company he said, “We need to do a better job of responding to changes in the marketplace. It’s an issue of diversity and inclusion. Without getting the talent issue right, we will not survive as an industry.”

“The consumer is in charge now”, Roth explained, clearly excited about the changes that are taking place.  Rather than be nostalgic for the good old days when, “All you had to do was make a great TV commercial”, Roth said that the proliferation of message touch points and the confusion this creates for the marketer represents the biggest opportunity for our business.  “Our job is to show them (clients) how to navigate through a confusing and rapidly changing environment where the consumer is in control”.

The key to our success today and in the future lies in getting the right talent and that means increasing diverse representation in our workforce.  That is why in a week that included speaking engagements in Shanghai, a speech at San Francisco’s Web 2.0 conference, appearing on a panel with Quincy Jones and Snoop Dog at the Urban Media conference in LA and a talk, just that morning, at the Paley Center in NY with Mel Karmizin and Arthur Sulzberger, Roth took 2 hours to present our company to a room full of college students from multicultural and in many cases multilingual backgrounds.  As one professor pointed out to me, over 75 languages are spoken on campus.

Roth is proud of IPG’s leadership role in the diversity and inclusion area.  He described a recent appearance at a 4A’s conference in Austin, Texas where he appeared on a panel with the heads of the 5 largest holding companies.  “I got into an argument with a competitor when I brought up the importance of diversity and inclusion.  (The other CEOs) didn’t want to talk about it.  If you’re going to effectively communicate with the consumer, you have to hire people that represent that consumer.  Its a core directive of IPG”.  Roth was candid about the failure of our industry to address this issue.  He spoke with obvious pride at the leadership IPG showed as the first marketing communications company to hire a Director of Diversity and Director of Supplier Diversity, the first to sponsor a Cannes panel on why there aren’t enough women leading ad agencies and IPG’s formation of a robust business resource network called MERGE.  Roth posits that the reason IPG has been so successful is because they have taken the bold step of adding diversity goals to executive compensation.

Michael Roth and CCNY student share ideas.

Questions from the audience showed a clear understanding of the challenges that lay ahead for the students – namely finding a job when they graduate.  (Luckily I brought a lot of business cards).  Roth’s answers were the kind of no-nonsense responses you’d expect from a kid who grew up in Brooklyn.  A young audience member asked Roth what he was like as a CCNY student. “I was a terrible student! I almost flunked out my first semester.  For me, high school was a breeze.  All of a sudden I got to college and I had to do real work  but I didn’t take it seriously.  So I joined a fraternity and these guys helped me.  They taught me that the time you put into schoolwork pays off.  Frankly, if I didn’t find good people to show me the way, I don’t know what would have happened.  But I did well and went on to become an accountant and a tax lawyer and run a couple of successful companies.  I give my kids the same advice – Do what you love, surround yourself with good people, work hard and be the best you can be.”   Later he urged students to, “Work for a company that embraces your values”.

Asked what the worst part of his job is he responded, “When one of our companies makes a mistake, offends a group, and I get the call from the client.  To the people working on the ad it made a lot of sense but they blew it,” because they lacked the insight that may have been provided by having diverse talent in the room when the ad was created.

A question about what Roth sees as the biggest trend for the next 5 to 10 years elicited an interesting answer.  “Social.  We’ve barely scratched the surface even with 800 million Facebook users…We recently sold a small piece of an investment we made in Facebook”.  He flashed his business accumen by describing the transaction as selling what was $2 million of that original investment in Facebook for $135 million.

Roth obviously enjoyed the celebrity status he received as a successful alumn.  There was a rush to shake his hand and have pictures taken with him after the speech.

Practical Genius

 In honor of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month, IPG Diversity+Inclusion, Somos and the NY Ad Club gathered to learn how to get in touch with their inner genius.  The Event, held on October 13th at The Harmonie Club in NYC, was billed as “A workshop to discover your genius”.  “Practical Genius”, a new book by Gina Amaro Rudan, Executive Career Coach and TED organizer, started with an inspiring message: You can’t achieve success until you bring your whole self to the workplace.

Gina Amaro Rudan, who grew up on Manhattan’s upper west side, describes herself alternately as a “NewYorRican”, “People Collector” and a “Paradox”.  After a successful career in the marketing departments of Avon and the PR Newswire, Gina had an epifany after briefly losing her sight as the result of a post eye surgery infection.  She describes this brush with blindness as the best thing that ever happened to her because it made her take stock of her life and career deciding to chuck her job as a VP of global marketing to pursue her first love – writing.  Since then she has achieved more success than even she anticipated.

Anyone can achieve the same success by tapping into their inner genius.

Honor your “soft assets”: Passions, Values, and Creative abilities.  Above all, values should be a priority in your life.  Many of us have forgotten to develop hobbies on our way up the ladder but they are a critical part of a well-rounded person. And lastly, find your creative side.  According to Rudan, MFA enrollment surpassed MBA enrollment this year.  But you don’t need to get a graduate degree to be creative. It can be as simple as taking a dance class or going to hear a symphony. Richard Branson was described as the perfect example of someone who lives at the “intersection” of these hard and soft assets.

Exercise, sleep and healthy eating are also keys to finding this sweet spot.  Too many of us wake up and fall asleep to the Blackberry.  Rudan cited a conversation she had with Arianna Huffington who told her that she actually fell on her face from lack of sleep.  Now she advocates literally “Sleeping your way to the top”.

As we approach the new year formulating resolutions to fix ourselves, we should include making a list of 25 people we want in our lives.  This list should be made up of 4 types of people: Yodas, Ambassadors, Tribes, and Fat Brains.  Yodas are mentors who can teach you and guide your progress.  Ambassadors are people who can connect you to others.  Tribes are groups that you want to contribute to and derive knowledge from.  Fat Brains are people under the age of 30 who, through reverse mentoring, can bring you fresh, innovative ideas and keep you current.

Her final advice; stay true to who you are and where you came from.  “Don’t shed who you are. Leverage it”.