We Have the Power to Change: Inclusion & The Future of Advertising
Do we look like the world that we are serving? Can we afford not to? Those are questions that are being asked at Advertising Week as it kicked off yesterday in New York.
We kicked off the day with Chris Edwards who told his courageous, and sometimes funny story during The Ultimate Rebrand: What We Can All Learn From One Transgender’s Journey. At a time when the word “Transgender” was never uttered, Chris embarked on a courageous personal journey that included 28 gender transition surgeries. Ever the consummate marketer, (Chris is a former Arnold Creative Director) brought his skills to bear to educate his colleagues on his transition making them in effect, his brand champions. Chris’ message was clear: each one of us has the power to control how others define us.
As global media agency, MEC, continues to challenge the entire industry and change the status quo, the Brave Your Bias: We All Have Unconscious Bias panel looked at the implicit bias that are held by all us. These bias, which stem from a variety of personal experiences, ultimately cloud judgment and can impact who is hired and who is not. The need to raise awareness of unconscious bias is only the start. So, what advice would they give to the advertising industry to confront unconscious bias? Develop affinity groups where white men may speak openly and honestly about their level of comfort with a woman or a person of color being placed in an authority position and working through these issues together.
In another conversation, the Advertising Week Talent Track hosted by MEC’s Chief Talent Officer, Marie Claire Barker, looked at how the next generation of marketers – in all of its forms—needs to be identified and nurtured.
Befitting Advertising Week, the session An Industry at a Crossroad: Recruiting, Retaining and Cultivating Talent naturally looked to how the next generation of marketers is rising up to take its place. Jack Meyers (Myers Media) singled out the need to keep challenging millennials with new opportunities to succeed and fail. Marc Strachan (Diageo) pointed out that while it’s important to let young talent have a voice they must be groomed so that they don’t squander these opportunities to make a name for themselves. Indeed, the expectations of millennials needs to be realistic. TJ Adeshola (Twitter) recounted the story of a friend who felt deserved of promotion with six weeks of joining his company.
The ICM led panel Talent and the Crossroads of Brands and Entertainment looked at the industries quest for talent for artistic ad creative talent. Jonathan Perelman (ICM Partners) served as moderator and was joined by Megan Cunningham (Magnet Media), Lora Schulson (72 and Sunny) Hillary Frey (Matter Studios) and Jennifer Frommer (Columbia Records) With art and creative at a premium an entire generation of DYIers – mainly Millennial -are finding that stardom is just a You Tube video away. Technology though has not fully permeated the world of film making as automation has not replaced reading. As Perelman pointed out nothing will ever replace an individual’s sense of taste and style.
All of these panels illustrate the premium placed on talent. What they also point to is the need to reach out to every segment of society to build advertising industry that represents the audience that it seeks to communicate with.