ANA's Bob Liodice: Diversity Priorities and Goals for the Ad Community

By Advancing Diversity Week Archives
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Following is the transcript of Association of National Advertisers Chief Executive Officer Bob Liodice's comments shared during the opening of Advancing Diversity Week (September 20-23, 2021), the ad community's inaugural outreach to the emerging workforce of Gen-Z and a spectrum of diverse communities. (Bob's comments can be viewed in the video above.)

Thank you Marc [Pritchard] for all that you're doing to lead our terrific industry. (View Marc Pritchard's comments here.)As you've listened to what Marc had to say, ours is an industry that has had to learn to behave differently, and specifically with respect to diversity. In the next few days [of Advancing Diversity Week] you'll see an outstanding array of behavioral changes that demonstrate our industry's progress to it becoming more diverse. But we must do more.

So if I had to categorically frame how we can influence our industry to further change behavior I would suggest the following three points.

First, as Marc has indicated, we need to behave differently in the production of our advertising. We know empirically that many marketers produce ads that have unconscious bias embedded in their brand ads. Fortunately, as Marc indicated, we have two very important tools that we all can use. They can reduce if not eliminate unconscious bias and all marketers should be using these tools and using them actively.

The first one is GEM, the gender equality measure. We can now develop ads that accurately portray women and girls when marketers infuse GEM in their copy testing, which not only reduces bias, but empirically improves the performance of ads.

The second one is CIM, the Cultural Impact Measure. Like GEM, CIM works to accurately portray diverse culture in ads. Marketers can embed CIM in their copy testing and also dramatically improve the performance of brand ads.

Now behavioral changes also need to be reflected in specific actions, my second area of focus. There are a multitude of great examples that you will see over the next three days. For now, let me highlight two specific actions spearheaded by the Advertising Educational Foundation. The AEF serves as a bridge between academia and our industry.

One of AEF's cornerstone objectives is to demonstrate to students that our industry is inclusive, diverse and belonging. We do this through an AEF speakers' program that channels more than 300 senior marketing executives to college campuses. Importantly we also do it through AEF's MADE internship program that brings nearly 100 students to client side marketers and agencies across the country each year.

The third and final area that I would like to highlight is how we champion and advocate for inter-industry behavioral change. We have a great example right in front of us through the outstanding work of Jack Myers and MediaVillage. I'd like to shine a light on Jack's acknowledgement of industry heroes being celebrated by their induction in the Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors. So a big shout out to these great advocates that will soon be officially recognized. But there's more.

Today, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media jointly announced the launch of a new industry initiative called Engage Responsibly. Engage Responsibly's primary mission is to combat online hate speech and champion for its substantive reduction by 2025. It will work closely with the Brand Safety Institute and aim to achieve those objectives.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge the great work of AIMM, which has made advancing diversity a cornerstone of their mission. AIMM now features more than 116 member companies that champion and celebrate inclusion and diversity.

View the AIMM Manifesto video within the video at top.

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