Advertising’s playful art of applied imagination took a back seat to social and personal responsibility in the presentation given by Steve Smith at the October luncheon of the Daytona Beach Advertising Association Federation. Smith is best known for work that radically transformed how the car rental industry viewed its own market. Smith’s approach to marketing skyrocketed domestic automobile rentals, more than doubling industry-wide revenue and quadrupling home/in-town rental revenue.
This groundbreaking work included Smith's creation of the “We’ll Pick You Up” campaign for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which increased annual revenue from $479 million to $13.1 billion.
But at the Bill France Clubhouse in the Daytona International Speedway on Oct. 27, Smith’s presentation, which he titled “My Generation of Advertisers; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly,” never delved into personal metrics of success or personal insights to marketing.
Smith focused on the social responsibilities of advertising and highlighted this importance with research generally describing the industry's role in shaping the larger job market and economy.
Smith cited research indicating that for every domestic advertising job, 34 jobs are created.
Who those advertisers are -- black, white, male, female -- shape what marketing messages are generated and with societal impacts with metrics like 34-to-1 job creation, that advertising work carries an obligation, Smith said.
The advertising world has a responsibility to represent a diversity of voices and there is great incentive for employers to hire with this in mind. Diversity delivers an irreplaceable marketing perspective to a firm, Smith said.
But Smith said the reality is that the racial and gender diversity of the advertising world underperforms compared to the overall labor market.
Smith drove home the importance of an advertising firm’s ability to consider a diversity of voices when constructing campaigns with research figures like 85 percent of purchase decisions being made by women.
The depictions in “Mad Men” of dated sexist and racial attitudes, Smith said, is not just a television show to be looked down on with the secure knowledge of how far we’ve come as a society. Smith said workplaces like that are still all too real.
Smith implored the audience to take personal responsibility to ensure that the advertising world provides women and diverse cultures with a voice in both their personal and the work created.
Advertising helps shape society. It helps drives the labor market. And who better to provide marketing insight on latino or black or female or youth than those very voices?
Diversity of voices is a vital asset to advertising. And more importantly, from an employment standpoint, Smith stressed, it is the right thing to do.