Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, one of the most successful black TV personalities, has made a major commitment to increasing media diversity.
O'Neal announced the creation of a new ad agency that will expand opportunities for minority creative professionals.
Based in his adopted hometown of Atlanta, the agency will be called "Majority" because it seeks a talent pool that's 75 percent "black, brown, women and LGBTQ," co-founder and CEO Omid Farhang told the Wall Street Journal.
“Most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target,” Mr. O’Neal said in a telephone interview with the WSJ. “We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.
“I’m just motivated to do this in a way to create new opportunities,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
While identified as an ad agency, Majority is well-positioned to expand into marketing and public relations, drawing from Atlanta's music, film and media businesses, as well as image-savvy corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola and UPS.
If successful, Majority could revitalize Atlanta's ad industry, which has withered since the 1960s.
O'Neal will not involve himself in Majority's day-to-day operations but will participate in conference calls, give advice and generate deals using his contacts as a TV pitchman. Farhang, an industry veteran, says the agency's diversity will build business opportunities.
The ad agency is the latest venture for O'Neal, one of the most successful entrepreneurs among former pro athletes. Along with endorsing a variety of products, O'Neal owns a number of Papa John's Pizza and Auntie Annie's pretzel franchises.
The owner of Midtown Atlanta's iconic Krispy Kreme restaurant recently destroyed by fire, O'Neal endeared himself to the city by vowing to rebuild the beloved doughnut shop.
O'Neal's also looking to purchase Reebok from Authentic Brands group, according to the WSJ article. Last fall, he participated in the launch of a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to make media and technology acquisitions.
Along with fellow former Laker Magic Johnson, O'Neal is gaining recognition as a business legend as well as an all-time NBA great.
Pro basketball fans love the former LSU All-American's jousts with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson Jr. on TNT's NBA show, often more entertaining than its accompanying game.
An all-star center for championship teams with the Lakers and Heat, O'Neal stands out for his witty sallies with Barkley and Smith, and his astute understanding of the game.
While O'Neal has expressed political ambitions and explored a law enforcement career, he has not spoken out on black issues as much as Barkley, and current Laker superstar Lebron James. O’Neal’s new agency shows he’ll be more engaged in widening the playing field for minorities.