LOS ANGELES — Axis, Weber Shandwick’s multicultural marketing arm, has spun off from parent company Interpublic Group, establishing itself as an independent, minority-owned agency.

The spinoff is the result of the agency’s founders, CEO Armando Azarloza and COO Carmen Lawrence (pictured), purchasing the brand from IPG, which will retain a minority stake in the firm. Axis was created as a Weber Shandwick specialty agency in 2005.

“Today is a proud day for Axis.  In the highly competitive world of marketing, Axis stands out for our focus on strategy, creativity and diversity, which has helped client brands reach their full potential in the US multicultural markets,” Azarloza said.  “Axis’ achievements are a testament to our ability to deliver unique cultural insights and purpose-driven campaigns for our clients. Our priority is to continue to drive that path forward and strengthen our position along with our clients by continuing to advocate for diverse markets.”

“For more than 15 years, Axis has delivered award-winning approaches that have helped our clients reach and engage diverse communities,” said Weber Shandwick president & CEO Gail Heimann. “We are proud of what the Axis team achieved within our family and proud of IPG’s role in catalyzing opportunity and growth for Axis and other firms. We look forward to partnering with Axis in their next chapter.”

The move comes as pressure mounts on PR agencies to dismantle the industry’s racial inequality following the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Stakeholders from employees to PRovoke are calling on the industry to make commitments aimed at fast-tracking diversification.

Weber Shandwick is among the agencies that responded to the racial strife following George Floyd’s murder by rolling out a range of initiatives to combat racism internally and externally. Weber has pledged to put $1 million in resources toward fighting systemic racism; will increasing its own efforts to attain diversity and inclusion, including benchmarking progress; making a donation to the National Urban League; and joining parent company IPG in making donations to Campaign Zero and Amnesty International.