February 8, 2006

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AAF Surveys Reveal Significant Challenges in Recruiting Talent and Retaining Minority Professionals

Two-Thirds of AAF Most Promising Minority Students Program Alumni Employed in Field of Advertising


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two recent surveys conducted for the American Advertising Federation (AAF) reveal that with an increased need for talent, advertising industry executives are facing significant challenges regarding recruiting, multicultural marketing and retaining minority talent.

First, the AAF Survey on Recruiting and Multicultural Advertising Trends, prepared by Atlantic Media Company, addresses two important industry issues—hiring challenges and multicultural marketing and recruitment in the advertising industry. In the hiring section of the survey, industry leaders report an increase in hiring needs. This increase is attributed to numerous factors including new acquisition of accounts, turnover/attrition and need for specialist talent. Yet in attracting and retaining new talent, industry leaders say salary-related issues present the most significant challenges.

In the multicultural marketing section of the survey, the benefits of such marketing are seen as substantial among those questioned, with precise targeting rated as the greatest benefit. Developing creative work that speaks to multicultural segments and effectively marketing multicultural campaigns to audience-specific segments rank as the most important challenges. However, 50 percent of respondents report that their organization has been not at all or not very successful in recruiting and retaining minority talent.

Preliminary results of the second survey, Where Are They Now? Career Paths of AAF Most Promising Minority Student Winners from 1996–2005, reveal that of the 96 alumni that completed the survey, more than two-thirds are employed in the field of advertising and marketing communications.

"Our results show that many companies are having trouble hiring and retaining minority professionals. The good news is that two-thirds of our Most Promising Minority Students are still successfully employed in the business of advertising," said Wally Snyder, AAF president & CEO. "To meet corporate demand, we must continue to increase the number of minority candidates. The AAF is doing that by expanding today's Most Promising class to 51 students and bringing our regional Mosaic Career Fairs to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. This year, we will showcase 500 outstanding candidates for the industry."

The AAF Survey on Recruiting and Multicultural Advertising Trends compiled the responses of 160 industry leaders who represent all sectors of the industry, with more than 80 percent having at least 11 years of experience in advertising. A copy of the survey is available here (PowerPoint document, 266k). Additional findings include:

  • Word of mouth/networking was rated the most effective recruitment tactic, with internships and relationships with educational institutions a close second.
  • Flexible working conditions were called the most effective recruitment tactic, followed by more direct financial incentives like competitive benefits, signing bonuses and compensation alternatives
  • Only 15 percent categorized their organization as successful in recruiting and retaining minority talent.
  • Internships are seen as the principal way to recruit minority talent.
  • 27 percent do not utilize traditional minority recruitment methods like internships, award programs, minority job fairs and on-campus recruiting.
  • 37 percent of industry executives rate their organization not at all or not very successful in obtaining the services of qualified minority vendors, while 24 percent say they have been successful or very successful.

Additional preliminary results of the Where Are They Now? Career Paths of AAF Most Promising Minority Student Winners from 1996–2005survey reveal that of the remaining alumni not employed in the advertising industry, 22 percent work in non-advertising fields and five percent are in graduate school. Most are working in the top 10 media markets. Three-quarters of the respondents said that the award contributed to their success in getting a job. Of those surveyed, 44 percent were African-American, 25 percent Hispanic, 23 percent Asian American and five percent mixed race/ethnicity. Jami Fullerton, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, and Alice Kendrick, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, prepared this survey.

These results are released in conjunction with the Most Promising Minority Students luncheon in New York City. The AAF Most Promising Minority Students Program brings talented minority students to New York to meet with top advertising, media and agency companies. Growing by 25 percent from last year to its largest class ever, the 2006 Most Promising Minority Students Program is the advertising industry's most comprehensive diversity hiring solution.

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The American Advertising Federation (AAF), headquartered in Washington, D.C., acts as the "Unifying Voice for Advertising." The AAF is the oldest national advertising trade association, representing 50,000 professionals in the advertising industry. The AAF has a national network of 200 ad clubs located in ad communities across the country. Through its 215 college chapters, the AAF provides 6,500 advertising students with real-world case studies and recruitment connections to corporate America. The AAF also has 130 blue-chip corporate members that are advertisers, agencies and media companies, comprising the nation's leading brands and corporations. For more information, visit the AAF's Web site at www.aaf.org.