Tiffany R. Warren, executive vice president, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Sony Music Group, and Carter Murray, CEO of FCB Global, were made chair and vice-chair American Advertising Federation National Board of Directors for 2021-2022, respectively, back in June. Their first major initiative for the long-standing organisation is an aggressive fund-raising campaign in support of its Mosaic Center.
The AAF Mosaic Center was launched over two decades ago and serves as a resource and advocate for the value of diversity, equity and inclusion - hallmarks of the association’s efforts to promote and advance multiculturalism within the advertising industry. Among the programs supported by the Mosaic Center are the Mosaic Awards, which recognise companies, agencies and individuals whose commitment to diversity is evident through their creative work and organization-wide initiatives; Most Promising Multicultural Students Program, which connects the advertising industry with the nation’s top multicultural college students; and HBCUs for Advertising, which helps to fund AAF college chapters at Historically Black Colleges & Universities as an incubator for Black success stories and untapped Black talent.
To find out more about the initiative and their general plans as leaders of the AAF, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Tiffany and Carter.
LBB> You were both appointed board chair and vice chair in June. Taking on those responsibilities, what are your main aims and ambitions? And how does an organisation like the AAF help you realise them?
Carter> My main objective is to support Tiffany in everything she does. Together, we have a strong vision that builds on the AAF’s existing, rich foundation in order to better diversify our industry’s talent pool, facilitate open and honest dialogue, and encourage participation in driving the positive impact that is needed in advertising.
Tiffany> Stepping into the role of chair, my very first thought was all of the various leadership opportunities AAF has extended to me since 1997. From National Student Advertising Competition coordinator, being a member of both the National Education Executive Committee and The Mosaic Council, to my favourite ‘role’ as an alumni of the first class of the AAF Most Promising Multicultural Program, I know AAF's various communities very well and have deeply experienced the role they play in sustaining the heart of multiple industries. My goal is to demonstrate, along with my co-chair, the true impact of AAF’s reach within the academic, DE&I, corporate, tech and creative communities.
LBB> Why were these roles appealing to you on top of your day jobs?
Carter> With the AAF’s emphasis on being the ‘Unifying Voice of Advertising’, our advertising leaders have the responsibility to come together, create forward-looking solutions and foster a support system to drive us to a better tomorrow industry-wide. It’s a privilege to be part of the AAF’s mission especially because I am so strongly aligned with it.
Tiffany> I don’t separate. As a chief diversity & inclusion officer, the job prerequisites include passion, dream defending and hope dealing – all aspects that I have witnessed over the years within AAF. Representing the work of AAF and more specifically growing the financial support for it and building DE&I programs is part of my day job.
LBB> I imagine a lot of what you aim to do is about building on what has already been done. How do you strike the balance between that and driving fresh ideas and initiatives forward?
Carter> Since 1905, AAF has earned an historic track record for driving progress. The space is ever-evolving, and over the past 18 months, that evolution drastically accelerated in regards to DE&I, mental and physical well-being, remote communication and so much more. Fresh ideas and initiatives enable the AAF to address modern demands and remain at the forefront of solving advertising’s biggest issues. Take, for example, our pivot to a blend of remote and in-person events as a result of the pandemic. While we all missed the joy of connecting in the same space, we pivoted in a way that the scale and quantity of our conferences and celebrations both increased substantially.
Tiffany> Since its inception, AAF has been a key driver in innovative and much-needed progress in the industry. It was focusing on DE&I as a business imperative when few were. It created principles that have found their way in many employee value propositions around the industry. It created a recognition tool (the AAF Mosaic Awards) to honour trailblazers, icons and innovators of colour while setting the standard for great multicultural work by elevating the creative for the world to see and take note.
LBB> How would you sum up the work that the AAF does? What are its main goals as an organisation?
Carter> The AAF is on an ongoing journey to conserve and grow advertising’s well-being. It serves as the connector for agencies, media companies, brands, colleges and more, celebrates creative excellence, and progresses adland on behalf of aspiring students, the existing workforce, brand clients and everyone in between.
LBB> The first initiative that you've launched is a huge fundraiser for Mosaic Center. What can you tell us about Mosaic Center and the importance it holds in being your first major project with the AAF? Why and how are you looking to raise money for it and what will the raised money eventually fund?
Carter> The Mosaic Center Expansion Fund is a pivotal moment in the AAF’s ongoing dedication to equal opportunities and a more inclusive workforce. It’s an honor being part of the largest expansion of the Mosaic Center in the AAF’s history, especially considering the influence of the Mosaic Center over the last 20 years.
Tiffany has already had tremendous impact, leveraging the Mosaic Center’s existing voice on multicultural and inclusion issues, while also writing the next chapter in the AAF’s commitment to promoting diverse talent.
LBB> Personally, how are you finding leading an organisation like the AAF? The potential for really making positive change on an industry level is huge.
Carter> As a veteran in the industry, I’ve witnessed the evolution of advertising, and with that, I’ve seen the AAF’s ongoing dedication and contributions. I’m beyond proud to serve with Tiffany and to be on the leadership team at such an interesting time.
I love the advertising industry and the people within it, but I also recognise the progress needed for a better tomorrow. The opportunity to be of that positive change is something I do not take for granted.
Tiffany> I truly feel led by the wonderful communities and corporate partners of AAF. They have provided, over the years, a constant drumbeat of feedback, innovation and support in real-time. We are very lucky to have such a robust connection to our different constituencies. I am particularly excited to bring the creative elements and professionals from the music industry into the AAF fold.
LBB> How do you see the rest of the year playing out for AAF?
Carter> The rest of the year, we’ll continue to see Tiffany’s vision shine with similar advancements to the Mosaic Center Expansion Fund, and we’ll begin seeing the rollout of our blended WFO/WFH conferences. We’ll be celebrating the big events, like AAF’s Advertising Hall of Achievement, in person, while continuing to evolve our training and competitions to virtual settings, touching upon crucial industry topics with a heightened reach and audience mix.
Tiffany> I will be working alongside Carter as we continue to solidify and extend AAF’s reach within the creative industries. Most importantly, we will work with the AAF Team to support the transition of key programs, initiatives and tentpole events from virtual to in-person as we monitor the changing face of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.