Shaq Co-Founds New Ad Agency Centered on Diversity

Shaquille O’Neal is adding to his resume. No longer content to just be a TNT commentator, actor, product endorsement guru and one of the greatest basketball players of all time after his 19-year-career in the NBA, O’Neal is also now the founding partner and a leading investor in a new Atlanta-based ad agency called Majority, which focuses on promoting copywriters, designers, marketers and other advertising professionals from diverse backgrounds.

According to Alexandra Bruell of The Wall Street Journal, the company is debuting “as Madison Avenue grapples with a history of inequity amid the nation’s renewed call for social justice,” which includes diversifying the ranks at large agencies and increasing diversity in the workforce of marketing teams at press agencies.

In an interview with Bruell, O’Neal said “most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target. We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.”

To do that, he said Majority will be hiring a diverse pool of talent who primarily identify as either Black, Brown, female and/or LGBTQ.

“The goal for our company is to show how creative output changes when you flip that ratio,” said Omid Farhang, co-founder and chief executive of Majority. “It’s as much about social equity as a shrewd business decision. Diversity is a competitive advantage. Diversity leads to different kinds of ideas that create different types of cultural discussions.”

In a description on its company homepage, Majority describes itself as: “Not a multicultural agency. An agency for the culture. We are built upon a diversity-led talent model. Not just for a more equitable world, but because we know diversity is the ultimate competitive advantage for disruptive creativity that moves culture. And when you move culture, you move product.

Not a company with a mission. A mission with a company: To accelerate the normalization of diverse faces powering the best creative companies in the world. Because when it’s normalized, you can see it. And when you can see it, you can be it. That is a generational legacy that is bigger than advertising.”

As many industry insiders can attest, diversity and inclusion within the advertising industry is greatly needed—and Majority will be welcomed for its “disruptor” approach. Based on a study of 165 agencies and 40,000 employees conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Black employees make up just 5.8% of ad agency staff and of that number,  68% of individuals are in administrative or entry-level roles. The same study found that Latinx individuals are equally underrepresented, making up 8.7% of the ad agency workforce.

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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