Not Just a Black Thing Anymore

African American ad agencies grab major, mainstream clients

Communications, a global holding company, Stedman Graham & Partners, Siboney USA and Imada Wong Communications Group. Spike/DDB is a collaborative effort between Lee and DDB Worldwide, ranked third globally.

Black marketers know baggy clothes and loud hip-hop or rap music in commercials won’t necessarily attract black customers. But not all mainstream advertisers know this. Successful campaigns created by black ad makers demonstrate an understanding of African American culture and expressions, as evidenced by Budweiser’s recent “Wassup!” commercial series, according to Lee.

Slowly, some are recognizing the power of the urban market. More companies are expanding their advertising budgets to include minority-targeted campaigns. But black ad agencies aren’t always benefiting. Target Market News, a Chicago marketing research firm, says $1.1 billion was spent in 1999 to attract black consumers. Of that, just 30% went to black-owned ad agencies.

“There’s a deficit, obviously, but each year black ad agencies are chipping away at it,” says Gardner.

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