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Opening Opportunities for Diverse Suppliers in Marketing and Advertising

The Billion Dollar Roundtable’s (BDR) research has found that the advertising industry represents a dynamic and inventive area of global business in which huge dollars flow in spend from major corporations to advertising and communications companies and agencies. Conversely, it has also discovered that diverse agencies and other historically underutilized companies in this industry traditionally have faced obstacles getting to the procurement table, where spend has barely been touched.

In search of breakthrough performances in this area, the BDR held summits in 2006 and 2008 that focused on “Opening Opportunities for Diverse Suppliers in Marketing and Advertising.” A 2012 summit was held at the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson (BDR’s newest inductee) and focused on “’Executing Supplier Diversity Best Practices in the Advertising and Marketing Industry’ and the role diverse suppliers play in helping advertisers reach their core constituents.”

Years have elapsed between summits, and the advertising industry is still taking baby steps. Relevant to this fact is that relationships are normally long in the advertising industry. This revelation indicates there is an emphatic need to change the playbook, and the time is now.

Supplier diversity is no longer about entitlement or affirmative action. It’s about action that is affirmative and finding unexpected partnerships and discovering shared values that drive business success.

Embrace change. Without embracing change, diversity and inclusion, many corporations’ business models will risk being left behind, playing catch-up or perhaps demise.

To counter this looming threat, dialogue from BDR’s 2012 summit exposed the following:

1)   Marketers need to help facilitate the dialogue and relationships between Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and decision makers in finding areas of opportunity spend.
2)   Advertisers need to do a better job of selling supplier diversity within their own companies and sowing this within their company so they can embrace it as part of their culture.
3)   Diversity must be embedded early in the contract to get commitment top-down and to get accountability at all levels.
4)   This type of relationship must be approached as a business partnership to create more opportunities for MWBEs, to take some risks and to allow MWBEs to participate on a broader perspective.GSD&M CEO Duff Stewart noted: “Agencies and advertisers have an obligation to move the conversation forward and build deeper relationships, not against, but with each other to move the economy forward. We have to set our own paradigm and goals for our respective agencies so that we are not chasing our clients’ goals but reporting to them based on what their needs are.”

About the BDR: The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1 billion with minority and woman-owned suppliers. Through the production of white papers, the BDR promotes and shares best practices in supply chain diversity excellence; encourages corporate entities to continue growing their supplier diversity programs by increasing commitment and spending levels each year; and maintains collaborative discussions with its members [current roster of eighteen (18)] to review common issues, opportunities and strategies. New members are inducted bi-annually.

A white paper for the 2012 summit is scheduled to be published sometime during the first quarter of 2013.

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