Finally, AMC’s ‘The Pitch‘ has something interesting to write about! This week’s episode will air ‘White Space‘, a hard hitting commercial about the lack of diversity in the advertising world from Muse Communications, who’s competing in that same episode.
AMC’s ‘The Pitch‘ hasn’t been the most exciting reality show, especially after following ‘Mad Men‘, which makes the ad world looks rather glamorous, but Muse Communications is shaking things up for the low rated show. They will be one of the competing ad agencies, going up against Bozell, an Omaha based agency, for a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) campaign, but they’re getting more attention for their commercial that will be airing during the first half of the show. The ad won’t be for one of their clients though, but rather, a very direct discussion about the lack of diversity in the advertising world. Anyone who’s watched any of the episodes preceding this one will see it’s a very white world on ‘The Pitch‘.
‘White Space’ gets right to the point without blinking or doing any PR double talk. It’s meant to be right in your face, and it’s a refreshingly frank commercial. We’re all so used to politicians saying one thing and then quickly reversing it (or as it’s become known as as ‘The Romney‘). Muse Communications has a message and in just thirty seconds, they deliver a wallop. It’s designed to get people talking, and it should definitely do that for the ones left watching ‘The Pitch’. “The message is pointed, sharp and focused,” Mr. Muse, chairman and chief creative officer at Muse Communications, said in a statement. “The rate of hiring and retention of people of color has always been dismal in the advertising industry. It’s time the public felt the outrage of these people who, even now, can’t find a job in this business, much less move up to the executive ranks.”
We wanted to find out more on the agency that’s boldy perking up some interest for ‘The Pitch’ while speaking on a subject that gets swept under the rug too often, so Shelley Yamane of Muse Communications answered some of our questions.
BEST MOVIES EVER: With so many agencies turning down ‘The Pitch’ what prompted Muse Communications to take part in the show?
SHELLEY YAMNE: We chose to participate in The Pitch to introduce the agency to a national audience. This was an opportunity to showcase our creative talent and strategic thinking and show the industry that great ideas can come from all types of agencies.
BME: Did your experience on ‘The Pitch’ live up to what you were told it would be?
SY: Well, I don’t think anyone is new to reality shows. We all know that they shoot hundreds of hours of footage and compress it into 45 minutes, so it was no surprise that we’d have a camera on at all times. And, we all know they are looking for some elements of drama. I think the difficulty comes when you become used to the camera and are in a competitive, emotional mindset, all while under extreme pressure to develop a pitch for a potential new client.
BME: Did you and your staff find yourself holding back with the cameras around and knowing that it would be on tv? Plus reality shows are known for editing for drama sake.
SY: Not really. We all got used to the cameras being around pretty quickly, so sometimes, we forgot they were even there.
BME: Have you seen the episode coming up that Muse is in yet? Looking back, are there any things you wish could have been done differently on the diabetes campaign your agency came up with?
SY: No, we’ll be watching it along with the rest of the viewers. We’re proud of the work, but of course, there are always things in a pitch you wish you could have done differently. We could have flushed the campaigns out more, we could have added a stronger measurement component, and on and on.
BME: I’ve noticed on AMC’s website, many audience members feel the wrong agency was selected by the advertiser. Is this pretty much the norm where advertisers can be out of touch with the public they’re selling too?
SY: I don’t know if it is a case of advertisers being out of touch or in the case of the show, perhaps going with the safer campaign. It’s tough to tell since audience members may also be voting on their favorite agencies based on their opinion of the agency, more than the work itself.
BME: What prompted your agency to come up with the ‘White Space’ commercial and airing it during the same episode your company was part of?
SY: We created “White Space” as a message to the ad industry. Over the past 25 years, we have championed for diversity within the industry. It has been an ongoing issue that has generated media attention and calls to action by the New York Civil Rights Commission. We chose to use our television debut to educate viewers on the topic and to continue to challenge the industry to improve its diversity hiring strategies.
BME: What are you hoping this commercial will achieve?
SY: We hope to get the conversation going among consumers and the industry.
BME: Naturally, there will be people that will say that the commercial is just using the ‘race card’. What is your response to those people?
SY: Well of course, there will be some who accuse us of using the “race card,” however, facts are facts. Just by watching the last few episodes of the show, it should be pretty apparent to the audience that this issue truly exists. Did you know that in 2010, of the more than 60 ads that ran during the Super Bowl, not one was created by a person of color? In 2011, that number jumped to a whopping four. We feel it’s time the industry becomes a better representation to the consumers we sell to.
BME: Has there been much change in the industry since Muse wrote the White Paper in 2009 about “The Challenge of Corporate Diversity Communication: Achieving Sustainability in Difficult Times”?
SY: Sadly, not enough. We continue to try to educate both the industry and consumers on the importance of diversity.
BME: For you what is the answer to creating more and better diversity within your industry?
SY: I strongly believe that empowering women will be critical to improving industry diversity. Currently, women account for 65-70 percent of all talent in the business, however, they are rarely at the executive level. With more female leadership, they will shape the new face of advertising.