Independent Agencies Unite, Form BLAC to Create More Diverse Advertising Industry


By thelaegotist / /

P&G is exclusive first-year sponsor, will provide brand projects for interns

Ten independent advertising agencies have joined together in an effort to increase the number of Black students entering the advertising industry through an independent, 501c3 national agency internship community. Building Leaders and Creators, or BLAC, was developed as part of a commitment by leaders at these shops who aim to build more racially diverse and inclusive workplaces and harness a breadth of creative talent that may not have previously considered ad careers. The ultimate goal is to hire full-time employees from the community. The internship program’s first year will be sponsored by Procter & Gamble. 

BLAC is an eight-week, paid, remote internship for Black creative thinkers that runs from May through July with a mix of hands-on workshops and training. In addition to discovering about advertising as a career path, participants will learn how to work as a team, how to sell their ideas, how to create presentations and handle important business skills such as salary negotiation. Seminars will connect interns with inspiring Black creative leaders and thinkers from across the industry, and they will work for real agency clients as well as P&G.

The mission is to bring more young Black creators into advertising with support structures in place for them to succeed and lead. BLAC is distinguished by a framework that connects the interns at the onset with an intensive, week-long training program and further builds a community through embedded sessions throughout the internship that bring them together through work and social interactions.  With the participation of agencies from across the country, students will be exposed to different types of agencies and agency jobs, making this a robust program that distinguishes BLAC from other single-agency internships.

BLAC will be sponsored by Procter & Gamble in 2021 and the inaugural class will work on real-world P&G brand and advertising assignments. Participating agencies for the first year include barrettSF of San Francisco; Cornett of Lexington, KY; DNA of Seattle; O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul (OKRP) of Chicago; and Walrus of New York in partnership with Humanaut of Chattanooga; Noble People of New York City, Planet Propaganda of Madison, WI; Preacher of Austin, TX , St. John of Jacksonville, FL and others to be announced.

Participating agencies represent a cross-section of the U.S. in all regions—East, West, North and South—and prospective interns will be asked to apply to specific ones in each region. A shop will bring on two to four interns, depending on its size, and each will be responsible for paying its interns. BLAC expects to expand its program annually with a goal of having 200 participating agencies by year five and a total of 2,000 interns and 500 “graduates” placed in jobs.

“Every link in the creative and media supply chain should be 40% multicultural, equal to the U.S. population, and we have a long way to go,” said Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, Procter & Gamble. “Efforts to identify, nurture and grow talent starting with interns is an important contributor toward this outcome, and BLAC is a program that shows true comradery in the independent agency world, with competing agencies coming together and sharing resources to bring about change.”

The curriculum and management of the program will be overseen by managing directors Sue Gillan and Kimberly Michelle Vaughn. The program is based on Camp OKRP, a proven internship program created by independent agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul in 2017. 

BLAC has a distinct process for recruiting its interns since the goal is to find creative talent that may not have considered or been aware of advertising as a career choice. Each agency is developing relationships with city and community colleges, local arts and civic organizations, and more. Interested interns can submit a two-minute video that shows or tells what makes them a creative thinker. Applications will be accepted until February 26, 2021, at [email protected]


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