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Multiculturalism is answer to ethnocentrism

by Vanessa Katz, '04

Editor’s note: Vanessa Katz recently won a national minority student in advertising award. Here are her thoughts on it, on her trip to New York to receive it, and on the importance of diversity in advertising and every profession.

The presence of minorities in the field of advertising is increasing due to those who have courageously chosen to enter arenas dominated by majorities. Diversity programs, such as the American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Minority Students Program, are intended to increase the representation of multicultural professionals in the advertising industry so that as a whole it can better produce advertising that reflects the realities of the changing ethnic and racial composition of the U.S. consumers.



This year’s program brought 32 of our nation’s top minority students in advertising to New York City for a two-day event at The Waldorf-Astoria. For me, as I suppose for them, too, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Representatives from more than 20 companies, advertising agencies from across the nation, were under the same roof for one purpose, to recruit. We were all vying for an opportunity to secure an entry-level position in one of America’s top advertising agencies.

At the opening reception, each finalist shared his or her personal 10-word slogan. My slogan was “it’s a dog eat dog world, bring on the katz.” Our goal for day one at the recruiters expo was to network with top industry employers and schedule interviews for day two. We were each honored at a luncheon with an etched-glass trophy. The luncheon, attended by over 500 people had the theme “Building Bridges for Our Future” and featured as guest-speaker, Tyler Ricks, director of multicultural marketing and development with Pepsi-Cola North America.

As Leo Burnett once said, “When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”

My own goal is to work for the expansion of minority inclusion in New York, the epicenter of cutting-edge advertising. I envision Hawai‘i becoming a leader in an advertising industry that values diversity. I aspire to retain the quality that exists in Hawai‘i’s advertising agencies by enabling market expansion and ethnic diversification. Hawai‘i’s central location in the Pacific Rim proves advantageous to attracting global talent. Its diversity imparts a melting-pot perspective, one comprised of the many peoples and ethnicities that have blended to make our modern island culture. Multiculturalism is advertising’s answer to ethnocentrism. The advertising industry cannot fail society’s obligation for equality. Diversity is advertising’s step out of the box.

Van Graves, creative director at BBDO New York, asked us, “What do you think is the most important skill for a creative director to have?”

We then went around the modern New York City conference room answering “dedication, determination, discipline….”

Graves responded, “The most important skill for a successful creative director to have is life experience”--love and loss, decisions and regret, and goals and failure.

I have three pieces of advice for anyone about to begin his or her career. First, make a long list of tough interview questions and answer all of them. You must know yourself inside and out. The tricky part is having your answers memorized to a point where you do not sound too rehearsed. Second, have a professional read your resume. It is an advertisement for yourself. Treat it that way. And finally, network, network, network. I cannot stress enough the importance of networking. Build bridges, maintain them, and never burn them. You never know when you may need to get across.


2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved. 
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