SAN FRANCISCO: American agencies need to redress the racial imbalance in the ad industry not only for reasons of race, business, politics and law, but also as taking action shows "what kind of people we are," says Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy.

Speaking at the 4As Leadership Conference 2009, Wieden, who departed from his topic of global brands, argued that "we've made some progress but still have miles and miles to go before we sleep."

Indeed, the gap between the proportion of the US population that is Afro-American, Asian and Hispanic and their presence in the ad industry still stands in contrast to the over-representation of Caucasians.

As a result, Wieden argued "We hire white, middle-class kids – lots of them – and pay them enormous sums of money to create messages that speak to the inner-city kids who create the culture the white kids are trying like hell to emulate."

However, he argued "we have enough class, passion, and financial support to come up with new solution to racial problems,” and now need “to reinvent a way to solve it."

To read further coverage by Geoffrey Precourt, WARC Online's US Editor, of the 4As Conference, click here.

Data sourced from WARC Online