The Madison Avenue Project was born from remarkable research commissioned about the lack of African-American executives in the advertising industry. In 2009, we discovered that racial discrimination is 38% worse in the advertising industry than in the overall U.S. labor market, and that the “discrimination divide” between advertising and other U.S. industries is more than twice as bad now as it was 30 years ago. The study found that African-Americans suffered a shortfall of 7,200 jobs in the industry and were paid 20% less on average than their white counterparts with comparable experience and education.
The study generated significant press coverage and buzz in the advertising industry, and in 2010 led to our filing EEOC charges against ad companies on behalf of several affected individuals.
The Project has also shed light on the advertising industry’s most coveted media spots – Super Bowl commercials. We found that of the 52 professionally produced industry ads that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl, all of the creative directors were white, and only 6% were women. Clearly, the American advertising world has been dominated by an insider network of white men. The Madison Avenue Project will continue to expose this systemic injustice and work to overcome it.
Madison Avenue Project Media Coverage
- Cyrus Mehri and Janelle Carter, View From the Front Lines. AdWeek, September 26, 2010
- Burt Helm, Cyrus Mehri’s Race Battle on Madison Avenue. BusinessWeek, February 25, 2010
- Kunur Patel, Cyrus Mehri Filing EEOC Charges Against Advertising Companies. Advertising Age, February 10, 2010
- Doug Melville, The Country Might Not Need a ‘Minority Czar’, But Advertising Does. Advertising Age, February 3, 2010
- Jim Edwards, Q&A: Cyrus Mehri and Race Discrimination on Madison Avenue. CBS Interactive Business Network, January 12, 2010
- Matt Van Hoven, The Latest Bullet in Advertising’s Already Blood Feet. Agency Spy, January 8, 2010
- Jill Marcellus, BMW Excludes “Urban” Ad Markets, Highlighting Ad Industry’s History of Discrimination Issues. Finding Dulcinea, August 24, 2009
- Andrew McMains, NAACP Writes Big Advertisers in Diversity Push. AdWeek, March 25, 2009
- Ken Wheaton, NAACP, MAP Target P&G, Other Marketers in Agency Diversity Fight. Advertising Age, March 25, 2009
- Stuart Elliott, NAACP to Advertisers: Diversity Begins at Home. The New York Times, March 25, 2009
- Burt Helm, Cyrus Mehri’s Race Battle on Madison Avenue. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, January 9, 2009
- Burt Helm, Madison Avenue Accused of Racial Bias. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, January 9, 2009
- Stuart Elliott, A Lawyer’s Call for a Greater Black Presence in Agencies. The New York Times, January 8, 2009
- Steve Hall, Wake Up Ad Agencies! Cyrus Mehri is on the Loose Again. Ad Rants, January 5, 2009
- Ken Wheaton, Super Bowl Spots and Their Creatives Even Less Diverse Than Ad Industry. Ad Age Blogs, July 20, 2011
- Craig Davis, Super Bowl Advertising Fails to Reflect Diversity of Audience. Sun Sentinel, July 20, 2011