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Key Advertising Week New York 2023 focuses include diversity, genAI, retail media, and SMBs

The news: Diversity and inclusion will be cornerstones of next week's Advertising Week New York conference, which will feature celebrity influencers, content creators, and leading brand executives, global president Ruth Mortimer said in an Insider Intelligence interview this week.

Two core initiatives stand out: the emphasis on diverse thought leadership panels and strategic partnerships with Group Black and The Female Quotient.

  • Group Black promotes Black professionals in advertising, while The Female Quotient pushes for gender equality in the workplace. These partnerships also align Advertising Week with broader equity movements.
  • "Making the industry we want as well as reflecting it is really important to us,” said Mortimer.
  • Gone are the days when a male-dominated panel was the norm at such events. Advertising Week champions both gender and ethnic diversity in its panel discussions.
  • Its own data affirms the efficacy of this approach: Diverse panels consistently outperform their less diverse counterparts. It's clear that inclusivity isn’t just ethically right—it's commercially smart.

Yes, but: Amid economic pressures, some companies have retracted their DEI commitments, leading to reduced diversity in ads and DEI job listings, potentially jeopardizing their brand images.

  • Despite consumer demand for diversity and inclusion, minority representation in video ads and major events like the Super Bowl declined last year.

What else to look out for: Mortimer called out a number of other things to look for this year.

  • One silver lining from the pandemic was Advertising Week’s improved commitment to ensuring accessibility to a wider audience through streaming options, allowing those who can't physically attend to still be part of the event.
  • Marketers are increasingly global, catering to audiences beyond their local or national boundaries; given that, there’s been greater demand to bring insights from international Advertising Week events to the New York edition.
  • Since the majority of US companies are small businesses, AWNY saw an opportunity to use its conference to upskill this audience. So now, there is an SMB summit within AWNY. The organizers also plan to recognize the top SMB marketers with awards during the event.
  • Topics Mortimer expects to be particularly prominent this year include generative AI and retail media; some of the speakers she expects to draw the most attention include Issa Rae, Paris Hilton, and Mattel brand chief Lisa McKnight.

Our take: Advertising Week's commitment to diversity is holistic, encompassing both internal panel compositions and external alliances. Their approach provides a compelling model for others in the industry, spotlighting that diversity isn’t just a buzzword—it's imperative for the future.

  • In today's forward-looking business environment, diversity is not just about representation; it’s about amplification, acknowledging the uniqueness of voices. Advertising Week is exemplifying this commitment through its proactive measures.