February 24, 2021

WPI Agency Cornett Helping to Build Diversity in Advertising with P&G Sponsored BLAC Internship Community

Written By: Angie Pascale

The advertising industry has long boasted its ability to drive culture, yet the people that have historically worked in advertising aren’t truly reflective of the culture. According to 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, advertising and PR agencies are 82.6% white, yet 40% of the general US population is multicultural. You don’t need Big Data to see the gap in those numbers. 

A new collective of independent agencies is planning to change that.

Worldwide Partners Agency Cornett in Lexington, KY, USA has partnered with eleven other indie agencies across the United States to launch a new internship community to build diversity in advertising. The program is called BLAC (Building Leaders and Creators), and their mission is to bring more young Black people into advertising, further prepared to thrive in the industry. 

Cornett’s President Christy Hiler was instrumental in developing BLAC and currently serves on the program’s board. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers. We can’t do that if our agency doesn’t reflect the world,” says Hiler. “We need different mindsets and perspectives, at all levels within the agency, to know how to create emotional connections with consumers.”  

BLAC is designed as a chance to break into the industry, providing hands-on experience on real client campaigns, as well as a broader overview of what it means to work in the advertising industry. Interns will also learn critical career skills such as negotiating salary, pitching ideas, and networking. 

The program is sponsored by P&G, a brand that has long strived to shine a light on inequality and racial bias, and create conversations that lead to action. In a statement on the BLAC website, P&G shared, “Through BLAC, we are proud to support an initiative that will help create more representative, equitable and powerful work across the advertising industry, shaping our world for the better.”

The eight-week paid internship will start on May 17, with interns working remotely with the nearest agency to them. The local agency connection is important to ensure a fair wage based on regional cost of living, and make the hiring process easier after the internship ends. Each agency will work with two to four interns depending on their size, and the goal is to place half of the interns into permanent positions at the local agency. “Our intention is to not only attract more people into the advertising business, but also create a community that will keep them in the industry,” said Hiler.  

Hiler explained that they’re starting small with 12 agencies but plan to evolve and grow the program ambitiously in the coming years. “We’ve set a goal to double the numbers of agencies and interns involved each year for the next five years,” Hiler shared. By 2026, the internship community is projected to have some 200 participating agencies and approximately 2,000 interns. 

BLAC is encouraging any creative thinkers, problem solvers, writers, artists, strategists and storytellers to apply to the program, regardless of background or age. Applicants are asked to submit a two minute video showcasing what makes them a creative thinker by February 26.

“If this industry wants real change, it has to happen with independent agencies,” said Hiler. “We look forward to working with the other agencies and together taking this first step of many in changing the makeup of our agency and the industry.”

Visit the BLAC website for more information on the program and how to apply.

Written By: Angie Pascale