Winds of Change

Amid shifting dynamics, black ad agencies are adapting to stay alive

continued its general-market advertising work with 3 Musketeers candy bars.

Other new business secured by BE 100S advertising agencies include:
In an increasing trend to gain staying power, many agencies realized they had to think outside the proverbial “black” box to compete against general- market rivals for plum accounts. Others expanded their services to offer more nontraditional methods of reaching multicultural consumers.

Carol H. Williams, BE’S 2004 Advertising Agency of the Year and No. 2 on this year’s list with $350 million in billings, won an account with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to develop black ad and marketing campaigns for its Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, and Westin brands.

GlobalHue (No. 1 on the list with $400 million in billings) picked up a direct marketing assignment with State Farm Insurance.

Spike DDB (No. 10 on the list with $45 million in billings) added telecommunications giant Alltel and Royal Caribbean International, for which it will handle all marketing communications targeting African Americans, to its client roster.

Equals Three Communications (No. 8 on the list with $50 million in billings) was chosen by Choice Hotels International to create an African American travel guide. The firm also grew business with existing client the National Institute of Mental Health.

Muse Communications added Honda, Wells Fargo, the U.S. Army, MGM Mirage, and Heineken.

STANDING THEIR GROUND
The pressures to compete are greater than ever for black ad agencies, which must contend
with giant general-market firms not only for mainstream accounts but also African American business. The increasing focus on the Hispanic market also poses a challenge for black ad agencies, particularly those that want to stay dedicated to African American work.

Agencies such as Muse Communications and UniWorld have turned to Hispanic professionals to cater to the growing needs of this market. SWG&M Advertising Inc. of El Paso, Texas (No. 14 on the list with $36.7 million in billings) formed strategic alliances with three Latino agencies. “I think it’s up to us to make sure that as black agency owners, we get our fair share because even though the Latino market is growing rapidly, the African American market is still a very significant market,” says Robert V. Wingo, SWG&M president and CEO. “We have to look at this from a visionary point of view and begin to place the emphasis on how we’re going to handle this emerging market before it becomes so huge that we lose control of the opportunity because we hadn’t paid any attention to it.”

RAISING A COLLECTIVE VOICE
Moving forward, black ad agencies realize that part of their bench strength relies on working together to create a better competitive environment for their shops. Last year, 10 African American-owned agencies formed The Association of Black-Owned Advertising Agencies Inc. The association will represent the interests of black agencies, lobby government and large corporations for increased sensitivity to black consumers, and ensure that organizations stay true to their diversity efforts while establishing opportunities for African Americans to enter the advertising and marketing communications field.

“I think that this organization will really help us

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