Fighting racism in Canadian advertising and marketing

All of us at the Multicultural Marketing Alliance Canada (MMAC) want to express our empathy and solidarity with the victims of racism and police brutality, specifically those in the Black and Indigenous communities in North America whose suffering has sparked the global Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movement.

This movement has brought to the forefront of public consciousness, human rights issues that many in the past have had the privilege of ignoring. The issue of systemic racism in Canada is real and well documented and we as an organization are committed to working to confront it. We believe that liberation from systemic racism is for the benefit of all Canadians.

As part of that effort, we want to acknowledge and support the Call For Equity Open Letter initiated by industry professionals calling for better representation of Black, Indigenous and POC talent in Canada’s advertising and marketing industry. We as an organization have signed it and we encourage all our members and others in the advertising industry to do so and follow through on those commitments.

As marketing and advertising professionals, we believe that the ongoing de-prioritizing of racialized Canadians who are our consumers and their exclusion from the information they need is a function of systemic racism.

We ask that marketing budget allocations properly respect and reflect changes in Canadian diversity and demographics, i.e. any investment in reaching Canada’s visible minority communities in 2020, should account for, at minimum, 22% of an entire marketing budget. It is only when marketing budgets proportionately address racialized Canadians that systemic racism and the exclusion it perpetuates, can begin to diminish.

Discriminatory pricing and purchasing policies also unduly penalize small multicultural agencies and the people of colour they employ and are led by. We ask that the Canadian advertising and marketing industry consciously work to remove the discriminatory expectation that multicultural agencies should be paid less than general market agencies when at a minimum they should be paid the same.

The multicultural agencies that make up our membership are almost mostly minority-owned and they disproportionately employ people of colour, and we believe they can play a key role in the creation of a more just, inclusive economy which is essential to the dismantling of systemic racism in Canada. We urge others in the marketing industry to work with us to gain insights into issues affecting racial groups in Canada. Many of the staff in our member agencies have firsthand experience of racism and exclusion and can offer solutions to confront it.

In the midst of this tragedy is an opportunity to work together to confront and eliminate systemic racism in Canada and we look forward to working with our member agencies and others in the Canadian advertising and marketing industry to achieve that.