Super Bowl Ads: Report Criticizes Lack of Diversity

Report Criticizes Lack of Diversity in Super Bowl Ads

Of the 52 professionally produced ads by advertising agencies aired during Super Bowl XILV this year, all of the creative directors were white, 6% of which were women, according to a study by the Madison Avenue Project.

“I have been authoring report cards on race and gender hiring practices for more than two decades. In all those years, we have never reported on an industry group that is less diverse. Madison Avenue ad agencies are led by almost all white men,” wrote Richard Lapchick, who wrote the report with Devan J. Dignan, Austin Moss II, Naomi Robinson, Brian Hoff and Jamile M. Kitnurse. “We hope this baseline data will provide a mirror for self-reflection so Madison Avenue can embrace change and move ahead ”

Of the 76 creative/co-creative directors that produced the Super Bowl commercials, there was only one minority. Seventy creative directors were white males (92%), and there were five women creative directors who were also all white (7%). The lone minority creative director was contest winner, Joelle De Jesus, a Latino male who was one of four contestants to participate in the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest.

The report is to be a first step in eliminating the current black-white employment gap. However, that “would require tripling its black managers and professionals — which at the present rate, will not occur for another 71 years,” according to Dr. Marc Bendick, Jr. and Dr. Mary Lou Egan, who both study race and employment in the advertising industry.

African Americans make up just 5.2% of managers and professionals in the advertising industry, according to Bendick and Egan.

The report also criticized the ads for their lack of minorities featured as main characters. Of the 67 ads aired, only four featured a person of color in the lead role, and all were male. The survey didn’t consider Beyonce’s role in the Vizio commercial a leading role because she was on screen for less than 10% percent of the advertisement time. The advertisements also depicted women in an antagonistic manner, featuring a number of ads portraying men attempting to appease their overbearing girlfriends.

“The lack of diversity that exists in executive and creative director positions on Madison Avenue has obviously transcended to the commercial content that is being advertised to people of all demographics,” wrote the authors of the report.

According to Nielsen demographic data, there were 11.2 million African-American viewers of Super Bowl XILV of which 48 percent were women.

The Madison Avenue Project is a partnership between the NAACP and Mehri & Skalet to “reverse the widespread, entrenched discrimination against African American professionals employed in the advertising industry.”