Lack Of Agency Diversity The No. 1 Issue For Head Of Marketing At Beats By Dr. Dre

Written by Dana Sanchez

Privacy, bots, and payment woes are some of the controversies being discussed at the American Association of Advertising Agencies annual 4As Conference, underway through April 5 in Los Angeles.

But the top issue for Beats By Dr. Dre is diversity. “It is absolutely issue one” for the brand, says Jason White, executive vice president and head of marketing.

The audio brand was founded in 2006 by rapper-record producer-entrepreneur Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, and deals in headphones, earphones and speakers.

White said that the Beats By Dr. Dre brand thrives on being relevant and trend-setting, but can’t drive conversations when there is a like-minded groupthink developing creative briefs.

From Media Post Agency Daily. Story by by Larissa Faw.

“How do we take people on a ride rather than discuss component of headphone?” White asks, citing Adidas and Nike as advertising inspirations.

As a result, the headphone maker is forced to use smaller independent shops or develop creative in-house in order to stay ahead of trends and pop culture, he says.

Yet, diversity isn’t necessarily adding an array of race and ethnicities or more female faces. Diversity is about bringing in different voices that experience life differently, he says — those living in urban areas such as street culture kids.

“I wish there was more of that in agencies,” says White.

White was joined by STX Entertainment’s Amy Elkins and Taco Bell’s Marisa Thalberg in a panel discussion with Campaign USA’s Doug Quenqua at the 4As Conference to discuss challenges and opportunities within the advertising industry.

The traditional agency relationship is being reevaluated by these companies. Taco Bell continues to develop social media in-house. “Does that mean they are alone? No. It’s collaborative,” says Thalberg. The fast food chain also brought restaurant marketing in-house to have greater control over the entire process, which includes point-of-purchase merchandise and menu design.

STX Entertainment is also bringing social insight and data analytics in-house because the company “can’t afford the time lapse,” says Elkins. When it releases a movie, such as last summer’s “Bad Moms,” the entertainment studio needs to make an impression in a four-week window that may need adjusting based on viewer reactions.

Beats By Dr. Dre, by comparison, mixes up its in-house and outside work. “We think of ourselves as an 8-year-old startup,” says White. Although the company’s “internal creative engine” has gotten bigger over the years, ad agencies have permanent desks at its offices. “We keep everyone close,” he says.

One misconception is that companies are constantly thinking about switching to other agencies in order to seek an infusion of new energy, they say. Even as an ex-agency person, White admits to not paying attention to awards or whether an agency is hot or not.

“The cost of making change is pretty profound,” says Thalberg. “The risk of bringing a partner on board is complicated and expensive.”

Read more at Media Post Agency Daily.

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