Look around your agency on Monday morning and count the number of minorities. Did it come to more than ten? Really? Okay. Take out the guys in the mail room. Now what the number? The deficit of brown faces in agencies is appalling. Just ask High Jive or just check out the ever growing complaints and “supposed” resolutions. Well, one Philadelphia agency isn’t going to take it lying down. No sir.
David Brown, who owns Brown Partners in Philadelphia, is going to try and change the game, as he knows to well about the barriers against minorities.
“For a long time, a good many years, with the agencies in Philadelphia, you had a Jewish agency, a WASP agency, an Italian agency,” Brown recalled. “When I started at Spiro & Associates, I was the only African American. It’s moved at a glacial pace, but it is changing.”
In 2004, Brown started The Big Pitch, a six-week program in which students in Philadelphia’s public schools are given an assignment to produce an advertising “pitch.” The students are matched up with mentors from the business, as they learn about advertising principles and careers. That’s right! Get them when they’re young! This spring, the mission was to create a voters’ campaign. Students from Charter High School of Architecture + Design, as well as Roxborough High School competed in “American Idol” format for $1,500 and receive scholarships to the University of the Arts Pre-College Saturday School program.
Brown said: “We try to ask what’s going to motivate an 18-year-old who has to go through a war zone to get to school every day.”
Here’s the rub… While the program has willing support via the schools and the kids, agencies in Philadelphia have been dragging their feet on becoming mentors. The program has gotten strong help from Red Tettemer founding partners Steve Red and Ed Tettemer, as well as Tierney Communications CEO Mary Austen and Brownstein Group President Marc Brownstein.