Adland needs to remove the fear when it comes to authentic D&I representation
The past few years have been pivotal within D&I and adland.
There's been more recognition that we have a problem, but it's not enough just to hold our hands up and call ourselves out. Good intentions can only take us so far, we need to see notable action taking place. And that starts from the roots of our business.
We are not an industry where the majority is getting it right.
We need more consistency, and mainstream agencies are not doing enough to work with more marginalized groups. Without a structure put into place and a plan to take us forward we are bound to fall back into the same old safe, yet problematic, spaces.
Brands are catching up but there is still a massive amount of fear of getting it wrong, so much so they end up not trying.
By bringing in more diverse hires and people with lived experiences at a senior management level we can erase this fear and educate our staff. If we fail to recognise this we’re going backwards.
My role at Lucky Generals means I communicate to and with the whole team, from planners, creatives, the founders and the clients.
I can integrate myself within the process from the brief and the thinking behind it.
Going forward, I believe this will be vital for our business. By embedding culture, and the important underlying values, it automatically permeates other departments, becoming part of daily life.
Passion needs to be an integral part of this role. You need to be the driving force for people.
You also need a level of knowledge, lived experience, and understanding of marginalized communities. And there is a lot of hope.
The Stepdad, Disney’s 2021 Christmas ad broke some barriers.
It worked with POCC studios, an agency founded upon shared frustration at lack of non-inclusive creativity and striving for equality for culturally and ethnically diverse people. The magical Christmas ad brought diversity together and smashed through ‘ideals’ with a blended family and beautifully told story.
Harmonizing across the whole agency and the client means being a voice to question intent, authenticity and work with people who are committed to change in this space. A lot of our clients are conscious of sustainability and diversity and want to reflect this in the brand in the right way.
Collectively, adland needs to remove the fear.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
From a brand perspective, we need to humble ourselves, we don’t know everything but we have the responsibility as storytellers to be authentic. We need to seek permission from communities and people with lived experience to tell those stories. And don't be afraid to ask and interrogate within communities, but in the right way. In this job you end up speaking on behalf of others, you need to have the right to do that.
I urge our industry to look inwards.
Hire staff with the intent of D&I and sustainability being front of mind, the changes can only truly happen if we build them from the core. And as we bring our creativity and knowledge to the table we should work with brands as one force. It's less about accusing businesses of what they are doing wrong and pointing out their shortcomings, and more about educating and helping to craft the right messaging; which we can only do if we lead by example.
Lastly, do not be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ and then be brave enough to seek answers.
Speak to communities, learn, listen and ask them to tell the stories that are theirs and not ours. Because worse than trying and failing is not to try at all.
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