by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics
- Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.
Question: Isn’t Cyrus Mehri just another opportunistic bottom feeder in the Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton tradition?
Answer: It’s always interesting—yet never surprising—to see individuals who protest injustices branded as bottom feeders. Then again, facing off with Madison Avenue on these issues does require lowering yourself to nasty depths.
Regardless, it’s important to recognize key differences between Mehri and Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton.
Despite occasional forays into advertising industry affairs, Jackson and Sharpton are ultra-outsiders. (Although rumors claim Black-owned agency executives told Jackson to back off when he offered to wage battles in the past.) While the two clearly understand things like exclusion and discrimination, they’re corporately clueless, at least when it comes to the ad agency business. In contrast, Mehri has done his homework. The Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report is nearly flawless in its examination of the inner dealings on Madison Avenue. The AAF and 4A’s couldn’t have produced a more factual, accurate document.
Additionally, the tactics employed by Jackson and Sharpton have possibly lost effectiveness over the years. One could argue that Jackson especially often resorted to intimidation that played on White guilt. Mehri, on the other hand, seeks to intimidate by proving Whites are guilty.
As for being opportunistic, well, let’s really consider the term. Remember, this battle has been plodding along since the 1930s. Madison Avenue has had plenty of opportunities to address matters for about 80 years. It’s not as if Mehri seized upon the moment, catching people unaware. The truth is, industry leaders have been opportunistic by perpetuating the problems via apathy and worse. Maybe we should all see this as an opportunity to create positive change.
If Mehri manages to take this drama to a courtroom, we can’t wait to learn whom Madison Avenue will call upon to defend. Even Denny Crane would take a pass on it.