The first day of the Communications committee's two-day hearings into racism in the ad industry was covered by the Mail & Guardian and Chris Moerdyk published his whole submission on MarketingWeb. Why does the Communications committee not publish all submissions on the internet?
The committee chairman, Nat Kekana, said in his opening remarks that the hearings were necessary to bring to the surface "the thorny issues, the anger, frustration the lack of transformation and hopefully a few success stories too".
I hope the hearings are not only about enlightening the committee, but the rest of the industry also needs to be enlightening. All submissions should be published on the internet and the industry needs a forum to both debate and comment on the submissions and be able to make submissions in a transparent and public way.
In fact, why not have hearings completely on the Internet in the future? This will mean that the whole industry could follow the submissions in real time, be able to comment on the submission, ask questions and the person which submitted should then answer the three most relevant questions.
To legislate or not to legislate? Nat Kekana, cautioned against legislative intervention in his opening remarks. Jannie Ngwale, the chairman of The Agency, said that legislation might be necessary. Chris Moerdyk, warned against legislation at this stage.
The Association of Advertising Agencies (AAA) said media reports that the number of blacks in the industry had dropped from 23%percent 1998 to 21% last year were incorrect and that the figure had increased to 30%. I wonder what percentage of these occur at the lower, middle or upper ranks of both management and the creative teams that shape the thought of South Africa through adverts.
Ngwale said the advertising industry had to assist in helping to create a non-racial South Africa, "perhaps more so than most industries because its work is at the heart of shaping ideas".
Therefore the issue is more that a witch hunt to discover if racism occurs in the advertising industry, but the industry should create advertising that transforms South Africa into a truly non-racial country.
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