Can the UK creative industry get rid of the advertising Taliban’s?
Dim-witted comments from leading figures in the advertising and creative industry are not new and will continue to be uttered mindlessly, but this time thanks to overarching social media and new technology it’s captured and broadcast to the whole world within minutes, so the we all become privy to the real picture.
The latest comments by Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi can only serve to highlight how out of touch the “advertising Taliban’s” are with the mood and sentiment of the industry as a whole. The combination of arrogance and ignorance insults those of us who work tirelessly to build on the acknowledgment of the dire need of diversity within the industry.
The industry is dominated by white middle class men and do not reflect the diverse composition of the country. With the recent rise of extremist attacks across the globe coupled with yearning for declaration of independence of Great Britain from Europe through the Brexit vote, are we arming our society and our industries to go back in time and undo all the great work that has been done to promote diversity. Will a society that is influenced with divisive politics and individualistic attitudes hamper the recognition of equality whether it is race, gender or sexual orientation?
I have always argued as a chair of the IPA ethnic diversity forum that diversity has not been taken seriously and agencies are drawn into focusing efforts more to lip service rather than action that is prolonged through implementation of goals and industry policies. With the whole debate of Kevin Robert’s comments this has marred the latest attitude within the industry and is just a small example that maybe opening up the door to reality.
A white male dominated industry calling the shots is not what we expect from a diverse nation like UK where 20% of the population are of diverse ethnic heritage. The current ad agency structures are clearly not equipped to offer adequate balanced advice to brands and government if we cannot agree to recognise the changing landscape of our society internally. And during the adverse times of extremist views, growing right wing politics and divisive stances we are in a generation where recognising and implementing diversity and not just celebrating it has become an all important way forward.
The agencies must come clean and show their real commitments towards diversity and equality, otherwise this may have serious repercussions on representation, race relations and community cohesion for our future generations.
Brands should send a clear message to agencies and leaders not to increase the divide in the country and work to bring the nation together when unity is a much-needed stance to fight all forms of extremism in our society.