Why the Pitbull outrage shouldn't be focus of Advertising Week

The concert is not an indictment of the event, which continues to serve as a platform for positive transformation for adland.

I’m not going to pretend I understand the full extent of what gender equality issues and obstacles mean for women. 

I do not and cannot. I’m aware of the opportunities in my life which have been far easier to come by because I’m male and white. 

But as part of this industry -- and as a man who cares and wants to push for positive change in adland -- I want to be part of the conversation. Uncomfortably.

I’m here to learn. Just like all of adland’s men should be. We must listen if we’re to ever evolve this conversation to something more tangible that actually creates change. 

With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on Pitbull performing at Advertising Week New York, which has become the event’s core focus for all the wrong reasons. 

There’s no arguing the bad juxtaposition: A week-long conference where anchor themes include equality, female empowerment and diversity and inclusion, closes with a party at which scantily-clad dancers twerk against a male artist whose lyrics are routinely labeled sexist.

It came just days after Advertising Week struck gold by asking female-group TLC to open the event. 

Should more thought have gone into booking Pitbull? Absolutely. The backlash Advertising Week has received should be of no surprise to anyone. Excitement over seeing him perform was, however, the most common chatter up and down those ridiculously long lines at the AMC in Lincoln Square. 

A few industry folk have slide into my DMs to share confusion over why adland is reacting the way it is. One guy said that no one has given thought to the fact that Pitbull’s dancers may feel at their most empowered on stage. I put this to Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn and adland’s force for change. 

She said: "The whole point of the reactions to the act, is that women are telling you (the general you) what does and does not make us feel empowered. LISTEN TO WOMEN. BELIEVE WOMEN." 

Advertising Week’s decision to book Pitbull was tone deaf and most likely without true thought of how his performance would transpire. 

But it is not an indictment of the event, which continues to serve as a platform for positive transformation of our industry.

We cannot allow Pitbull to be the reason adland takes seven steps back. 

We are better than Pitbull.

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