Every now and then when I’m in an ambitious reflective mood I’ll launch an archive of my old work blog and scan through several posts. I guess I still wonder what happened. I know I’ll never figure it out.
I found an old post from 2007 that I used to ask colleagues about false claims of diversity in advertising. I worked in a predominantly white department in a predominantly white university. Photos of people of color were precious commodities- using photoshop, I’d lift the people out and place them in ads or in news photos. A director called getting a photo of a black woman “double dipping.” I had problems with the lie, but at the same time saw some value in trying to create a welcoming atmosphere to encourage people of color to participate.The post had a couple of smart comments, one from the departments CIO. After spinning a brief anecdote, he claimed he was for demonstrations of diversity.
The triteness of the diversity campaigns that I saw online and on campus was an embarrassment. The poster above was a shot at an honest diversity campaign. I had others using the same theme- several of the same women wondering why somebody thought their perfume was too strong. Well, that was the idea anyway. I thought it was honest, clever, and fun, but people didn’t beat a path to my door. I think the model, Mark, had fun.
Several years after my retirement in 2012, I was experimenting with image search. For no reason other than its obscurity I searched on my diversity poster. It came up as having been used in someone else’s blog about a year after I made it. The gentleman’s post called diversity advertising crap, then went on, “The problem, of course, is finding an execution – particularly a visual execution – that isn’t predictable, patronising or already done to death.” He went on to say that he’d found some approaches that weren’t brilliant or entirely rubbish- but with a low puke factor. His first one? Yep, “Try this internal poster from the IT department at Penn State University:”
I sent the guy a note thanking him for something that happened so long ago. He returned a nice note, ending with some good advice: “Don’t spend too much time looking back in your retirement, by the way.”
You’re probably right, Andrew.