Headshot of Joe Anthony with arms crossed, wearing a black t-shirt, in front of grey background.


Campaign US - Joe Anthony: Latines can end white cronyism in advertising

Madison Avenue has been a white male-dominated fraternity for decades. 

It’s no secret that less than 5% of our industry’s work-force is non-white, which falls drastically below the proportion of the actual U.S. population. 

George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement forced a shift in DE&I initiatives to rebalance the scales. As a result, we are seeing a lot more demand in BIPOC hiring and supplier diversity.   

Byron Allen’s activism, and the legal action he has taken against Fortune 500 brands for not investing enough in Black-owned media, have created a tectonic shift, forcing brands and agencies to close the investment inequality gap. These events have had a huge impact on the attention given to the Black community. They have also empowered and gave license to other marginalized communities to speak up. 

Which brings us to the next DEI shoe to drop: The Latin community is a sleeping giant that is about to be awoken. Corporate America must get ahead of its demand for equality and representation.  

Latinos are driving the majority of America’s population growth and have almost $2 trillion in annual spending power. According to research from McKinsey & Company, Latines are projected to make up 22.4% of the U.S. labor force by 2030 and more than 30% by 2060. 

By sheer volume alone, Latines can be the force that ushers out the white cronyism that has dominated the ad industry for good. Latines are emerging as the next force to be reckoned with.

As a community (my community), Latines can build off of what BLM has done in driving its own issues forward. While the Black community has a unique legacy of social justice activism in this country, Latines, often descendants of or immigrants themselves, are conditioned to just be thankful to be here — despite the fact they may face similar injustices to other people of color.

Sometimes that sensibility enables them to overlook discrimination they encounter once here. That’s not ok. We can’t let ourselves come out of the fire only to be grateful we landed in a frying pan.

In the past, our community has organized around labor issues behind activists like Cesar Chavez. We must carry that legacy forward to speak up and act out against social inadequacies and racial discrimination we face in this country.

Once the Latine community starts to galvanize under our own social activism, we’ll see the type of movement that might ladder up to, or exceed in its ability to shape the conversation like BLM has. As a Black and Latino man, I know this to be true.

What does this impending Latine revolution mean for our industry? Simply put: We need to get ahead of the curve in including the Latine community in advertising and media — and be proactive instead of reactive.

As agency leaders, we can’t wait to make changes until our clients ask us to. Let’s not get caught with our tail between our legs again, waiting to be called out and exposed for grossly ignoring the Latine community before making any real changes. 

The industry learned through the Black Lives Matter movement that when we talk about DE&I, we’re not talking about CSR. We need DE&I to be a change agent in solving the real business problem that we are neglecting certain audiences and cultures in our messaging and media plans.

We need this mindset to drop in a Latine motivation.

Originally appeared in Campaign US here.