In Case You Missed It – How CEO Sarah Hofstetter Promotes Diversity at 360i

Teonne-Wright-Jan-2014Contributed by Teonne Wright, AAF Omaha Board Member & Education Committee Co-chair

In case you missed it, Steven Perlberg with The Wall Street Journal, posted a column titled ‘How CEO Sarah Hofstetter Promotes Diversity at 360i’. Read more below.

About 60% of digital agency 360i is made up of women, including in management positions, and about a third of employees are non-white, CEO Sarah Hofstetter said on the WSJ Media Mix podcast.

That makes the agency something of a model of diversity at a time when it has become an increasingly controversial issue in the advertising world, particularly after a sexism and racism lawsuit scandal erupted at ad agency J. Walter Thompson earlier this year. So how did 360i do it?

“No quotas. No legacy. It’s just, ‘Hey, you bring a different perspective here. That sounds really interesting,’” Ms. Hofstetter said on the WSJ Media Mix podcast. “The beauty is it just happened.”

But Ms. Hofstetter acknowledged the ad world’s long history meant it has struggled, like many industries, to promote more diversity in the workforce. “When you’re dealing with infrastructures that are decades old, it’s really hard to just paint over it,” she said.

On the podcast, Ms. Hofstetter also responded to the explosive Association of National Advertisers report released earlier this month on the pervasive use of “rebates” and nontransparent business practices in the U.S. The report detailed how ad companies are being paid by media companies for directing money on their client’s behalf without their knowledge.

The report has faced criticism by some in the agency world for not actually naming names, stoking marketer mistrust about the entire industry at large.

“I think, in general, agencies and clients need to have a degree of transparency and a big part of that ties back to education,” Ms. Hofstetter said. “Clients have a responsibility to their company—to where it makes sense, their shareholders—to have a knowledge of where their money is going and how it’s being spent.”

“We’re big believers in the importance of transparency,” she added.

360i is also often known for helping to kick off the world of “real-time marketing” by shaping Oreo’s famous tweet during the Super Bowl in 2013. During a stadium blackout, Oreo tweeted that “you can still dunk in the dark,” and brands have seemingly spent the last few years trying to emulate Oreo’s ability to enter into the real-time social media conversation—with varying degrees of success.

Ms. Hofstetter joked that the industry has 360i to blame for beginning the real-time marketing trend.

“It’s terrible for the industry if everyone is 24/7,” Ms. Hofstetter said. “There’s too much crap on the internet as it is. Brands are already inserting themselves into places they don’t belong. We need to have some element of balance here, otherwise we overcorrect and get way too intrusive and then we wonder why consumers tune us out.”

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