Prompted by this year’s rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and in acknowledgment of the ad industry’s continued lack of diversity, The One Club for Creativity has rebranded its annual Here Are All The Black People multicultural conference and career fair back to its original name: Where Are All The Black People.
The event, typically held in person in New York, is this year available online to a global audience running September 22-24, and will address the new realities of race, inclusion and diversity in advertising. The conference features dozens of speakers on panels, virtual recruiting, online portfolio reviews, masterclasses and a talent showcase. Registration is now open, there is no cost to attend.
From WAATBP to HAATBP and back again
More than 20 years ago at a Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein holiday party, a young Black copywriter named Ed Crayton posed a half-serious question to agency partner Jeff Goodby: “Where are all the Black people?”
After subsequent conversations with Jimmy Smith, chairman/CEO/CCO at Amusement Park Entertainment and One Club Board member, about creating ad and design job opportunities for minority students, Goodby and Smith used that question as the provocative title of their panel on diversity during The One Club’s 2011 Creative Week.
Strong interest in the topic led The One Club to expand WAATBP into a day-long multicultural conference and career fair later that year. By 2014, with hundreds of annual attendees and greater attention being paid to the issues, the club rebranded the conference as “Here Are All The Black People.”
But the events of 2020 — fueled by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, the rise of BLM, and more open dialogue about structural inequality — led The One Club to reexamine the conference and acknowledge the ad industry’s continued lack of progress in providing opportunities for people of color.
“In the 90s, Ed Crayton asked, ‘Where are all the Black people?’ “ said Smith. “In the mid-2000s, Mike Hughes, former president of The Martin Agency, said ‘Jimmy, I’d hire them (Black people); I just don’t know where to find them.’ As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Clearly, when it comes to race, the advertising industry is broken.”
“So this year, we pulled an Alex Haley,” added Smith. “We went back to the roots of why the program was created in the first place. We fixed the title back to ‘Where’ “.
“I could not be prouder of these past 10 years,” said Goodby, co-chair/partner, Goodby Silverstein & Partners. “From Ed Crayton’s eloquent summary of the challenge to the holy presence of Jimmy Smith, I feel so lucky to be a part of something that has helped begin the process of making our agencies and businesses look more like real life.”
“In retrospect, we were overly optimistic six years ago about the progress made regarding diversity in advertising. The mission was far from complete back then, and it’s still incomplete today,” said Kevin Swanepoel, CEO, The One Club. “By returning to the original Where Are All The Black People name, we’re again putting that uncomfortable but critical question front and center, and challenging the industry to take meaningful action and make real progress.”
In support of the name change, the event has new branding developed pro bono by Anthony O’Neill and Benny Gold, a pair of creatives at Goodby Silverstein & Partners.
This year’s WAATBP special keynote speaker will be announced shortly. Jeff Goodby and Jimmy Smith will both speak at the event, with additional confirmed speakers to date including Ete Davies, CEO, Engine; Oriel Davis-Lyons, CD, Spotify and head of The One Club’s ONE School free portfolio program for Black creatives; Walter Geer, ECD, experience design, VMLY&R; Amber Guild, president, T Brand, The New York Times; Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller, president, Cheryl D. Miller Design; Denise Horn, senior director, corporate communications, WarnerMedia; Nate Nichols, founder/CD, Palette Group; Patrice M. Palmer, CEO, eROOT Consulting; and Shannon Washington, Group ECD, R/GA.
WAATBP is one of many ongoing initiatives at The One Club addressing inclusion and diversity in the industry. Along with offering its long-running global Creative Boot Camps, the organization recently launched ONE School, a free 16-week portfolio program for Black creatives that is now accepting applications for Fall courses on the East and West Coasts.
Another recent program is The One Club Diverse Ad Talent Directory, which provides a platform for people of color in a broad range of roles — account management, admin, creative, HR, media, production, strategy, and technology and analytics — to upload profiles and be viewed by agencies and brands who want to add diversity to their workforces, and to connect people for networking and mentoring.
Shortly after issuing a BLM statement committing to take meaningful action to support the Black creative community, the club increased diversity within its leadership with the appointments of Gail Anderson, chair of BFA Design and BFA Advertising at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and Sherina Florence, creative director at Ogilvy, New York, to its Board of Directors. More than 60% of The One Club Board is made up of women and people of color.