Mad Men may be set in the 1960s, but not much has changed since then. 92 percent of Super Bowl ads, Madison Avenue's biggest showcase, were created by white men. No wonder that they represent such a limited worldview.
AdAge reports (rather defensively, it should be noted) on a report by the Madison Avenue project, made up of the NAACP counsel and a civil rights lawyer, and executed by a business professor at the University of Central Florida. The stats:
For the 58 spots in which the study was able to identify the creative team, 92% of the creative directors were white males, 7% were white females and one lone creative director was Latino. The Latino was not an agency employee, but the winner of Doritos' consumer contest. There were actually 67 total spots, though TIDES was not able to find the race and gender of every creative director.
The head of the ad industry's trade group happens to be a woman. And she had some not-very-helpful things to say:
This attention, paired with a lack of dialogue with agency leadership, could hinder real change, said American Association of Advertising Agencies CEO Nancy Hill.
"I think it makes it difficult, especially if agencies aren't invited to have a discussion," Ms. Hill, the only agency representative at the press conference today, said of the project's press-first strategy. "It makes it feel like [the Madison Avenue Project] doesn't want to have a conversation."
Something tells me this is not a discussion agencies are particularly interested in having without being goaded into it by press-shaming.
The study (not online yet) singles out Super Bowl Sunday's heinous FloTV ad, and praises the Volkswagen Punchback ad for at least portraying black men, two of them celebrities. (That ad was made by two white men).
Richard Lapchick, the co-author of the study, elaborates on the lone Latino, who did not come out of the agency system:
Joelle De Jesus, a Latino man who won a Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contest. His ad, Doritos "House Rules," was considered by many to be a "top five" commercial in terms of popularity. This commercial was one of the few that had noncelebrity minorities in a lead role.
But he also singles the same ad out for promoting the stereotype that all black families are headed by single mothers.
I have been doing media report cards since 2006, and I have been authoring report cards on the racial and gender hiring practices in the NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS and in college sport for more than two decades. In all those years, we have never reported on an industry group that is less diverse.
According to Nielsen data, nearly half of the Super Bowl viewers this year were women, and nearly 20 percent were African-American and Latino; and those numbers are increasing every year. The Nielsen data indicates that 11.2 million African-Americans viewed Super Bowl XLIV, and 48 percent of them were women.
As we've previously noted, the world presented of the super bowl ads — made up of resentful white men — isn't just bad for society. It's bad for business.