CoverGirl executive Ukonwa Ojo was struck when the team from an ad agency entered the room to pitch ideas for revamping the cosmetic company's image. For the first time in Ojo's more than 20-year career in business, she found herself working with a black creative director.
That meeting would ultimately result in a marketing campaign that challenges conventional ideas about beauty. It features celebrity women from a spectrum of races, ages and professions, including Issa Rae of HBO's "Insecure," motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda, celebrity chef Ayesha Curry and dietitian Maye Musk, 69.
"To have an African-American creative director walk in the room and present this to me, I thought, 'Oh, my God, this is amazing,'" said Ojo, who is Nigerian-American. "I think we can see the power of the work because of that."
Diversity in the advertising industry is becoming a higher priority for consumer-product companies as they try to reach a new generation of customers with evolving sensibilities on ethnicity, age, gender and sexuality.
Many companies have come to believe that having a variety of backgrounds in the room can not only produce a smarter marketing campaign but also help avoid the kind of blunders Kellogg and Dove were recently accused of in today's politically combustible environment.