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What happens when you have a ‘black people’ Advertising Week panel without black people

September 29, 2015
Aaron Polmeer

By Shareen Pathak

Tip: When you host a panel called “Here are all the black people,” maybe make sure you actually have some.

A Tuesday panel at Advertising Week New York went pretty viral — albeit not in the way the panelists might have wanted — when the lack of diversity on stage was called into question. The One Club hosted the “Here Are All the Black People” event Tuesday that is an all-day career fair for multicultural students and recent graduates who might be interested in the ad industry.

Unfortunately, while plenty of black creative big-names like Amusement Park CEO Jimmy Smith and Wieden & Kennedy’s Jordan Muse were speaking at the event, one panel ended up having no black people on it, an unfortunate coincidence that ended up bouncing around Twitter, seeming to confirm that the ad industry is hopeless on diversity.

Seven non-black people, instead, took the stage, accompanied by a backdrop that said, ironically, “Here are all the black people.” (The panel was to address how to introduce young creative talent to the industry.)

A tweet from Grey New York, whose chief creative Andreas Dahlqvist was on the panel, unfortunately bore the brunt of the reactions.

A Grey spokesperson referred comment to the One Club.

The One Club said that there were several African-American panelists preceding and after this particular panel, and there were several mentors and pitch participants throughout the day that were also African-American, as were the majority of attendees. It hasn’t, however, directly responded to any of the criticism, saying it’s “unfortunate” that the image has received so much negative attention, since the panelists on the panel and their agencies are all committed to promoting diversity in the industry.

The Twitter reactions were swift: 

Good question.

Maybe they just made a mistake?

Seriously good question.

Maybe they were trying to make some kind of point?

The problems with the ad industry’s lack of diversity have been well-documented. It’s also a year when diversity of race, gender and background are all a big part of the agenda at Advertising Week, which sees over 95,000 attendees every year, which makes this even more awkward.

The post What happens when you have a ‘black people’ Advertising Week panel without black people appeared first on Digiday.

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