The issue of racism in advertising and marketing is to be addressed in public hearings held by the South African government on November 6–7, at which submissions will be made by the Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of Marketers.

Subjects expected to be covered include black advancement, media ownership, division of adspend, content and gender.

The country’s ad industry was branded “conservative and lily-white” earlier this year by Nat Kekana, chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, who at the time vowed to organise public hearings before the end of the year [WAMN: 06-Jul-01].

Kekana accused the sector of “failing the industry and the country” by not supporting black-targeted media, and characterised typical media buyers as “22-year-old white women who watch Ally McBeal.”

Howard Gabriels, executive director of the Association of Marketers, welcomed the hearings, saying they provided the chance “to engage constructively with the issues.” He added that three key topics need to addressed: black advancement, media ownership and the targeting of audiences on an economic, rather than a racial, basis.

“We acknowledge racism as a serious problem in the country as a whole and our industry is not exempt, but the key is to find constructive solutions,” continued Gabriels. “It would be a mistake to be defensive, deal with the subject in a political way and hope it will go away and then two years later have the same debate.”

News source: AdAge Global