Stefano Hatfield on Advertising

Howard is all very well, but adland has a long way to go on race
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The Independent Online

Racism is advertising's dirty little secret. For a business that is run by so many liberals, and would like to view itself as inclusiveand ideally a force for positive change, it is remarkably backwardin promoting multiculturalism.

This used to be the case on both sides of the Atlantic. It was visible both on screen and in the make-up of agency staff. But great strides have been made in the US over the past decade in the presentation and portrayal of minorities. Not least because, if you choose to be cynical, the spending power of the Hispanic, black and other ethnic communities demand this be the case.

In the UK, too, there has been progress, with minority faces cast in lead roles for mainstream brands such as Vauxhall Zafira, Coca-Cola and Halifax with the ubiquitous Howard. But there is a long way to go. Behind the camera, at the agencies, there has been shamefully little progress.

Ethnic minorities make up 31 per cent of London's population, yet the IPA's 2005 census revealed that 6.9 per cent of agency staff are non-white, up only 0.7 per cent from two years before. Worse, 70 per cent of these are employed in back-office functions. A list of non-white advertising leaders soon stutters after Jonathan Mildenhall, Farah Ramzan and Trevor Robinson.

Meanwhile, in the US this week Earl "Butch" Graves Jr, the president-CEO of Black Enterprise magazine accused the industry of "basic racism", arguing that black media were not getting a fair share of black advertising dollars. What's more, 16 of the leading names on Madison Avenue, including the DDB CEO Chuck Brymer, the Saatchi & Saatchi New York CEO Mary Baglivo and the Ogilvy North America co-CEO Bill Gray, have been subpoenaed by the Human Rights Commission to explain its poor record in hiring minorities, particularly black staff.

Among the 16 agencies represented at the HRC hearings, only 9 per cent of all employees are black; again, many of those are in more menial roles. In New York the black population is some 25 per cent of the total. You can be sure that this will create a media storm in New York - especially given that the hearings are designed to coincide with advertising week in September. Couldn't happen here? Maybe it should.

ALL EDITORS aspire to achieve what Chrissie Barker did. Barker, who lost her battle with cancer on 9 June, was the legendary former editor of Campaign during the mad, bad 1980s. She turned the publication into the Bible of the business. In so doing she attained a power within the industry that was difficult to overstate. Barker, a blunt and mischievous Aussie, honed her considerable news skills under the editorship of another Campaign legend, Bernard Barnett. She became the greatest newshound the UK ad industry has ever seen. This she achieved both at Campaign and later as a columnist of the London Evening Standard.

She wasn't a great writer - she was far too focused on the thrill of the story for that. Both Campaign under her watch and her Standard column were dependent on exclusive breaking news, not excellent writing. At the Standard, she gave Campaign an early taste of what the internet age would be like, buggering up countless Thursday-morning front pages through revelations in her rival Wednesday-afternoon column.

She only had to make a few calls a week, sniped the cynics, such was her level of access to senior figures in the industry. As if you can criticise a journalist for that! That said, she clearly had favourites whom she used shamelessly in the pursuit of the news as she saw it. Barker's view of the world was made possible because she was the best informed person in town.

Senior figures from her time such as Bill Muirhead (former chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi) and Chris Powell (former chief executive of BMP) mourned Barker with me, fondly agreeing that her favouritism was "terrible". Inevitably, they then claimed they didn't mind because they each thought they were her favourites - alongside every other big cheese. It was a great trick.

Her obstinacy and personal conviction were exemplified by her sudden, acrimonious parting with Campaign in a row with then-Haymarket Group chairman Lindsay Masters and MD Bill Warburton over the "not in the style book" use of caps in a front-page headline about the Saatchi brothers - a row that spilled into the street at Lancaster Gate.

Over the years, however, she consistently revealed a gentler, warmer side to me. I never worked for her, but when I became editor of Campaign she invited me to her home in Richmond to give some heartfelt advice. Why? Because she loved the ad industry and Campaign, and believed that the latter should champion the former.

She loved her husband and children still more. Barker moved into PR at J Walter Thompson to enable herself to better balance the needs of her children and her career. She was never a natural on the dark side, but she made herself become good at it with typical determination, and really cared about JWT and its people. She had just accepted a new role at Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP HQ in Mayfair when she was diagnosed with cancer.

At 52, Barker had more to give. As much as any single figure, she helped to define the image of the modern British advertising industry as fun, creative and cut-throat. She will not be forgotten. My thoughts go to her husband Mike Townsin and her children.

IF YOU can suddenly get a table at The Wolseley or The Ivy this week, it's not just because half the ad industry is at the England-Sweden game. The other half is in Cannes for the International Advertising Festival, a full report on which will appear next week.

Let's just hope that, against the odds, the good things about the festival survive. Can the celebration of the best and worst of creativity, and a rare opportunity to admire Argentinian men for their yen for long hair, withstand the ever more oppressive invasion of the massed ranks of American multi-national marketers in polo shirts and chinos delivering their stultifyingly dull seminars, unveiling their terrible new ads, swearing at their malfunctioning mobile phones, and watching us watching soccer with bemused alarm? Bring on those bouncing Sony "balls".

E-mail with invitations to your Cannes parties and incriminating photos from the ones I missed.


It's been a pretty awful World Cup so far for both the US team and some of its leading brands. Budweiser deserves singling out. Lucky enough to be at the opening England game, I can vouch that a) the ads there are even worse and b) the Germans and others are aghast at having to drink "pissy" Anheuser Busch "Bud" under the terms of the exclusive sponsorship (they are not allowed to use the Budweiser name in Germany). But at least the Germans are spared having to watch Budweiser's idents for ITV. Using the conceit that Americans don't really understand "soccer", they make the classic mistake of believing we give a stuff about their strategy: make Brits like us through the World Cup by exaggerating American ignorance of football. But we can zap the idents; it's worse when you don't have the option of avoiding their ignorance of good beer.