Reprinted from www.office.com
Getting African-American Kids Excited About Advertising
One percent of agency personnel are African-American. Spectrum Speakers is trying to change that.
By Laurie Wiegler
The ad copy reads, "Who's going to teach him to shoot a basketball? Who's going to teach him how to handle
his first crush? Not you. You're just here to teach him how to do ads that don't suck."
And so begins the pitch — a sort of plea, really — from the energetic members of Spectrum Speakers, a largely
African-American collective of 16 ad professionals from across the United States. Its ad is aimed at African-
Americans in advertising, urging them to volunteer to speak at local schools and universities.
The brainchild of an African-American creative director — Ed Crayton of DDB Dallas — Spectrum is an
offshoot of a San Francisco ad group founded in 1990. The members of that group were concerned by the
dearth of African-Americans in the advertising industry. They began sponsoring seminars featuring black
speakers and designing award-winning public-service ads.
While the early Spectrum was novel and inspiring, the group was in need of a second tier, one that would help
increase the number of African-Americans in the field by appealing to a younger audience. Currently, the lead
agencies driving the youth-oriented effort include DDB Dallas, Dallas-based Shift, and a creative boutique
called Adwurx in San Diego. Their efforts include not only posters but a television advertising campaign.
"(Black) kids just aren't aware of this business," says Crayton, who left San Francisco in 1993. "The kids look to
Venus Williams and Tiger Woods, for example, and say, 'I can do that.'" Crayton says the same should be true
for advertising stars and their effect on black kids.
To provide such role models, Spectrum Speakers began going into schools last November, reaching out to
audiences, largely African-American, of students in elementary school, middle school, high school a