- 160over90, the multicultural marketing firm owned by Endeavor, announced a strategic investment and partnership with Obsidianworks, an inclusivity-focused agency founded by actor Michael B. Jordan and Chad Easterling last year.
- Obsidianworks aims to provide brands with deeper expertise in marketing to multicultural communities and elusive young cohorts such as Gen Z and millennials. The group's goal is to remind the ad industry that "'multicultural marketing' is mainstream marketing," Easterling, a former Nike marketing executive, said in a press statement.
- Jordan is represented by WME, which is also owned by Endeavor. 160over90 is investing roughly $20 million into Obsidianworks as part of the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.
Endeavor is deepening its investments in inclusive marketing through the strategic partnership with Obsidianworks, a small agency that wields considerable Hollywood star power and marketing bona fides. Along with Jordan and Easterling, the shop's leadership includes nonprofit adviser René Spellman and creative marketing and agency veteran Bobby Moore III. Obsidianworks' mission is to usher in a new era of storytelling that elevates fresh perspectives and produces more authentic campaigns, Jordan, known for roles in blockbuster movies like "Black Panther" and "Creed," said in a press statement. Clients include Amazon, Coach and Piaget.
Demands for better representation in both consumer-facing advertising and on the operational end of the ad business have intensified following a year marked by widespread protests for racial justice and equality. Agency shortcomings are leading to an influx of outsiders looking to lend marketers their expertise and name recognition in connecting with diverse communities. Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal and marketer Omid Farhang recently teamed to form an agency called Majority that intends to build a workforce that's 75% diverse, flipping the 25% diversity target Farhang claims many agencies struggle to meet, per the Journal.
A proliferation of shops dedicated to furthering inclusion comes as legacy agencies, which have struggled for years to improve representation, try to bring more transparency into the makeup of their ranks. Publicis Groupe last week released its second report breaking down U.S. diversity data, which showed a 5.5% year-on-year increase in diverse talent at the holding company. However, nearly 81% of its senior-level management remains white. The company last week appointed Geraldine White as its new chief diversity officer in the U.S.
Agencies are taking different tacks to address gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion. Dentsu in May unveiled a new business unit called Economic Empowerment that seeks to connect ad buyers with minority-owned companies. IPG Mediabrands, the media arm of Interpublic Group, recently pledged to allocate at least 5% of total media spend among its clients to Black-owned media by 2023. WPP's GroupM followed with an initiative encouraging clients to put at least 2% of their total yearly media budgets toward Black-owned platforms.