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The Ghosts of Mad Men
  • Christopher Boulton, University of Tampa
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This talk is based on my dissertation work on race inequality inside the U.S. advertising industry. I presented it during a panel on Diversity & Inclusion Gaps in Advertising & Media Supply Chains at a summit emphasizing Corporate Social Responsibility compliance on environmental and diversity commitments through the implementation of GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards. Based on qualitative fieldwork conducted at three large agencies in New York City during the summer of 2010 (including ethnographic observations, affinity-based focus groups, in-depth interviews, and open-ended surveys), I argue that the industry’s good faith effort to diversify through internship-based affirmative action programs is overwhelmed by the more widespread material practices of closed network hiring—a system that advantages affluent Whites through referral hires, subjective notions of “chemistry” or “fit,” and outright nepotism through “must-hires.” Furthermore, the discriminatory nature of White affirmative action is hidden from view, masked by ideologies of color-blind meritocracy deployed by management and interns alike.

Don Carli, Institute of Sustainable Communication
Anita Laney, President/CEO, Professional Partnering Solutions, Inc. (PPS).
Judene Walden, Moguldom Women’s Division
Glenn Hansen, CSR-P, ACSAP, President & CEO, BPA Worldwide
Dr. Christopher Boulton University of Tampa, Assistant Professor of Communication
Eliseo T Rojas, Chief Procurement Officer, The Interpublic Group of Companies
  • race,
  • advertising,
  • diversity,
  • sustainability,
  • class,
  • colorblind racism,
  • white privilege
Publication Date
October 9, 2012
Citation Information
Christopher Boulton. "The Ghosts of Mad Men" (2012)
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Creative Commons license
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY-NC-SA International License.