Basketball Hall of Famer and current TNT commentator Shaquille O’Neal is diving into the world of advertising with his latest move to invest in and launch his own diversity-led ad agency.
According to The Wall Street Journal, founding partner O’Neal — alongside co-founder and chief executive Omid Farhang — will be working with marketers behind the scenes for their Atlanta-based agency called The Majority Agency to focus on serving up talent of diverse backgrounds.
News of this agency arrives just as Madison Avenue is battling a history of inequity amid a nationwide social reckoning calling for larger corporations to increase diversity across the board for their ranks and teams.
“Most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target,” Mr. O’Neal shared with WSJ. “We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.”
Proudly introducing @MajorityAgency, a creative shop in partnership with @SHAQ, built on the thesis that diversity is the ultimate competitive advantage for cultural disruption. https://t.co/10OMTTBaEw
— Omid (@OmidFarhang) March 2, 2021
To do this, Farhang shares that the agency plans to hire a diverse pool of talent made up of “Black and brown people, women and LGBTQ.”
The two founded the agency in Atlanta as it’s widely-recognized as a hub for a thriving community of middle class Black people.
“The goal for our company is to show how creative output changes when you flip that ratio,” Farhang told WSJ. “It’s as much about social equity as a shrewd business decision. Diversity is a competitive advantage. Diversity leads to different kinds of ideas that create different types of cultural discussions.”
While O’Neal will not be in charge of handling day-to-day tasks, he will be offering support to the agency by joining in on meetings, networking and assisting with brand and celebrity outreach as needed.
“I’m just motivated to do this in a way to create new opportunities,” O’Neal concluded with WSJ. “A lot of people talk about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I want to do something about it. I just want to make progress.”
O’Neal has previously worked with dozens of brands over the decades through both endorsement and investment deals. WSJ reports that he currently owns a chain of Papa John’s Pizza restaurants and Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchises. He’s now looking to acquire Reebok with Authentic Brands Group from adidas AG to help revive the brand.
The former NBA star now joins a cluster of celebrities who have also invested in ad and production agencies, including actor Ashton Kutcher, who co-founded production firm Katalyst and rapper Pitbull who helped launch a multicultural marketing agency called 305 Worldwide.