Study: An Examination of the Advertising’s Industry Race and Ethnicity Problem
A new study has found that the unfriendly culture of many advertising agencies ultimately pushes people of color out of the industry’s mainstream and into segregated multicultural agencies. The findings by Kasey Windels, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Advertising associate professor, and doctoral students Noura Ibrahim and Lincoln Lu were featured in “Examining the Ad Industry’s Race and Ethnicity Problem: Application and Extension of Co-Cultural Theory” published in the Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising on May 1, 2023.
The authors studied the overrepresentation of white people in the advertising industry and examined how minorities working in the industry employ various communication practices while engaging with white dominant group members. In their research, they used co-cultural theory, an organization communication theory that examines the intersections of culture, power and communication.
According to the authors, “Through this study, we saw how people of color experience and navigate the obstacle course that is the advertising industry. When applying co-cultural theory to our findings, we found that advertising professionals who identified as part of a minority group engaged in one or more co-cultural communication strategies when interacting with the dominant white group. Participants utilized assimilation-based practices, accommodation-based practices, and separation-based practices.”
They add, “Historically, Black advertising professionals were limited to working within segregated Black communities. While laws and regulations have changed this requirement, our findings suggest that the unfriendly culture of many advertising agencies ultimately pushes people of color out of the industry’s mainstream and into segregated multicultural agencies.”