Major corporations employ DEI agency to feature ‘underrepresented’ communities in ads

By Around the Web

(Photo by Joe Kovacs)
(Photo by Joe Kovacs)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

By Elizabeth Troutman
The Daily Signal

Some of the world’s largest companies are hiring a nonprofit agency to make their commercials appear diverse.

It’s called Free the Work, and it matches companies with minorities to star in their photo shoots and advertisements.

Free the Work partners with Amazon, Google, Snapchat, Meta, Uber, Haagen-Dazs, Verizon, Target, and others to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in media campaigns. The nonprofit brought in more than $2.5 million in 2022, according to its 990 report, a financial statement filed by tax-exempt organizations.

Free the Work has made two commercials for abortion giant Planned Parenthood. One called “We Asked. We Listened. We See You,” released in January, features a black woman showing off her mastectomy scars, two girls holding hands, and a girl hugging another girl while holding a pack of Morning After emergency-contraception pills.

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“We are committed to advancing the health of young people in this country by providing comprehensive sex education that is medically accurate, culturally responsive, equitable, and accessible—as well as inclusive of varying gender identities, expressions, and sexual orientations,” Planned Parenthood’s testimonial on Free the Work’s website says.

Amazon credits Free the Work for helping it deliver diverse advertising.

“DEI is instilled in every step of the production process in order to have representation behind and in front of the camera,” according to an Amazon testimonial on Free the Work’s website. “With help from Free the Work, we’re able to hire women and people of color to increase authentic representation, remove unconscious bias, and provide equal opportunities for diverse communities.”

Free the Work puts “underrepresented talent behind the cameras” to train them on “things like being a director or being a director of photography,” David Mogensen, Uber’s vice president of marketing, said on the Google podcast “Modern Marketers.”

Free the Work takes data on every person on set to ensure diversity in media production, Mogensen added.

The DEI agency worked with Google to create an ad featuring a lesbian couple, black-owned businesses, people with disabilities, an elderly Asian couple, a Muslim math teacher, and a young Indian boy, with the tagline, “There’s a world where everyone belongs. It just has to be built.”

Meta has partnered with Free the Work to make eight Facebook commercials featuring actors and producers from minority groups.

A founding sponsor of Free the Work, Procter & Gamble, works with the agency to involve “more women and underrepresented creators” in media. P&G aimed to achieve “50/50 equality” in its creative process and “proportionate representation” of “race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, religion, and age,” the consumer products giant’s statement on the Free the Work website says.

Pro-LGBTQ group GLAAD collaborates with Free the Work to “rewrite the script for LGBTQ acceptance.” The DEI agency has helped GLAAD make 10 films, including “We’re Here. We’re Queer. #WeVote? With Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela, Eureka O’Hara, and More”; “Focus on Transmasculinity in Film and TV”; and “LGBTQ People Are America.”

The commercial “We’re Here. We’re Queer. #WeVote?” featured a series of drag queens dancing with transgender flags and urging LGBTQ people to vote in the 2020 elections.

Ice cream brand Haagen-Dazs committed to spending $1.5 million over a three-year period starting in June 2021 to support organizations that “uplift and support marginalized and underrepresented creators and tastemakers.” One of those organizations is Free the Work.

“These creators and tastemakers are often marginalized or underrepresented, so we felt it was important to support and uplift this community by committing $1.5M over three years to ensure that their passion, art, and definition of luxury is experienced by many,” Haagen-Dazs explains on Free the Work’s website.

Free the Work is transitioning its database and entering an “incubation” period for unspecified reasons, according to a pop-up note on its website. Its current programming stopped May 31, and the website will shut down in August.

“Together, we have disrupted the hiring practices of the advertising world, carved opportunities for creators around the globe, and built a vibrant, inclusive community,” the message reads.

Free the Work refers its clients to a black- and female-founded ad agency and content studio, Adolescent, which “has been creating pathways into the advertising and entertainment industries for emerging creators with a focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Creators since 2013.”

The agency did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on what the transition or incubation period entails.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

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