Thursday, August 31, 2023

16368: Signs Of The Times In Adland.

Adweek published a personal perspective by a collector and dealer of antique advertisements and signs, who marveled at the history behind the iconic images. Hey, it’s also fun to consider the old mastheads of White advertising agencies that have vanished and/or merged out of the Adland landscape—Ted Bates, N.W. Ayer, Benton & Bowles, D’Arcy, J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam, The Richards Group, and more. Other remnants of a bygone era include many minority-owned shops, as multicultural marketing is being choked to death by an industry running on systemic racism.


Unpacking the Legacy of Antique Ad Signage


What’s in a sign? Much more than a remnant of an old business


By Rob Wolfe


As a longtime collector and dealer of antique advertisements and signs—what I like to call “rusty gold”—I can tell you there’s more to them than just the name of an old business.


As a child growing up in Iowa, I developed an interest in exploring junkyards and flea markets, where I was especially drawn to the metal signs that advertised old merchants. As an adult, I have a better understanding of why these were so alluring to me: These advertisements were much more than discarded remnants. They told a story of the history of a time, a place and an industry.  As my own collection of antique signs has positioned me as a sought-after expert, I’ve gained an understanding of what they mean to people and businesses, and why they are still effective today.


These signs are a visual touchstone to a bygone era. They evoke a feeling of nostalgia—a powerful emotional lever—and have become a strategic marketing technique in today’s fast-paced digital world where nostalgia can play a significant role in branding. As a result, antique advertising signs have become very much in demand today, not only for collectors hunting down old artifacts (the iconic porcelain sign for Musgo Gasoline sold for $1.5 million, a new world record) but also for new businesses looking for inspiration.


Here’s a bit of the history of these signs, which further explains their unique branding proposition that resonates with customers.


From visual to verbal


Advertising has been a mainstay since our nation’s founding to get customers to come into a store or locate a service. Prior to the 19th century, because many people were illiterate, visual advertising dominated. Images that could represent a trade or craft were placed outside a shop: The barber’s red- and white-striped pole and the tobacconist’s carved wooden American Indian figure are typical examples. These colorful and catchy signs were effective in capturing the interest of potential customers.


In the later part of the 19th century, improvements in education led to a shift where signage with words became increasingly common. Long before social media or influencer partnerships, these signs were the way businesses marketed themselves.


The materials used to make the signs, and the changes in those materials over time, also provide a fascinating history. Early metal signage was usually cast iron or steel, with porcelain enamel cast over the top to create a richly pigmented appearance. As we entered the 20th century, steel’s prominence switched to tin—a much cheaper, easier to produce metal than steel or iron. This cost-effective alternative allowed for companies to produce thousands of these signs for very low costs.


Metal signs were prominent until materials became scarce, expensive to produce or were needed for the war effort. Neon began to be used in the 1920s and was very popular until the 1960s, recently making a comeback. These signs were made from materials like porcelain, painted metal, plastic and Lexan. McDonald’s has used both neon and Lexan—still used to this day—for their famous golden arches.


Everything old is new again


Vintage signs have the power to evoke feelings of authenticity, trust and reliability that resonate with customers. Think of the Coca-Cola red can that’s been a mainstay of their brand advertising since the 1800s, or John Deere’s iconic logo and green tractor. Much of our consumer behavior is fueled by memory, from our first bicycle to our first car to the brand of television we buy. These ads can be powerful levers, taking you back to an impactful time and place in your life, which is why vintage brand signs have become an inspiration for modern-day brands.


When I think of some of the most iconic advertising signs from days gone by, I’m reminded of Beaman Pontiac in Nashville, Fisherman’s Friend in Seattle and, of course, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.” These signs influenced advertising trends for generations, and their enduring appeal is evident today in the businesses that continue to honor and display them.


Brands can harness the power of antique signs in the following ways.


Turning to the past to create an aura of trust and craftsmanship. If you’re wondering about the power of nostalgia, look no further than Chevrolet’s 2021 holiday ad. Presumably designed to highlight Chevy’s modern fleet of trucks, a 1966 Chevy Impala is the star of this ad. If you want to imply that your modern product has staying power, craftsmanship, reliability and aesthetic, this ad says it all.


Provoking a sense of glamor and superior service. Travel just isn’t what it used to be. Airline seats are smaller, meals are meager and hotels charge outrageous “resort fees” for basic services. But some hotels are using vintage signs to reflect the magic of travel from a bygone era. Stylized signage from previous eras may help imply that your travel experience will be superior. When MCR Hotels refurbished the old TWA terminal at JFK airport, their express purpose was to convey the feeling of the golden age of travel, starting with the iconic signage; a new motor lodge in Charleston, S.C., Starlight Motor Inn, is reviving the category of motor lodges and their vintage signage, another homage to the golden age.


Instilling a sense of old-fashioned quality. When it comes to the fast casual food industry, conveying quality food served within a consistent, comfortable and memorable setting is paramount. It’s ironic that Potbelly had its first location in a former antique store; perhaps that was the inspiration for the chain’s down-home style antique signage displayed throughout their restaurants. Potbelly’s use of vintage signage creates a whimsical setting for patrons to channel the concept of hearty meals right out of a former time.


These are just a few of the ways “vintage” serves as a communications vehicle for brands and incentives for consumers. Signage can transport consumers to another time, evoke positive memories and associations, as well as promote a sense of quality. For brands looking to tap into the power of nostalgia, these signs are a powerful tool.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

16367: Midweek FYI.

(For those who missed the Black Pioneers exhibit, catch the 3D Virtual Tour.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

16366: Amazon Ads Delivers Prime Performative PR.


Adweek published sponsored content—which is essentially self-promotional poop—from Amazon Ads, explaining “Why Inclusivity Matters” and “Inclusive advertising is a business imperative.” Of course, the performative PR leads to Amazon Ads hawking a DEI-friendly solution. Although lectures on inclusivity from Amazon is, well, never mind.


Why Inclusivity Matters


By Amazon Ads


Inclusive advertising is a business imperative.


Today’s consumers don’t just seek out a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); they expect it. In fact, 81% of consumers are more likely to purchase products or services from brands whose values align with their own, according to the 2023 Higher Impact report from Amazon Ads.


That’s because many people want to feel seen, heard and appreciated by the brands they shop. And one of the most impactful ways for brands to express that is by prioritizing and aligning their DEI values with those of their customers.


Diversity, equity and inclusion need to exist together to have full effect. Like the acronym, all parts are required to drive action. Additionally, cultural change is built with inclusion, and by making others feel like they belong.


The importance of differences in values, experiences, expectations and ways of interacting with different audiences should be top of mind for marketers. And not just because it’s what consumers want.


Inclusive advertising helps brands connect with a wide range of people, promotes innovation and ensures that ads can be enjoyed by a variety of audiences. This was evidenced by the Higher Impact report and forms the basis of brand marketing across the industry.


But what does this look like, and where should brands start?


In Q1 2023, Amazon Ads launched the Allies of Diversity audience, which aims to provide a solution to reach an array of consumers at scale that have demonstrated signals of allyship, an active commitment to drive change through acts of sponsorship and advocacy. Amazon infers allyship based on aggregated first-party shopping and streaming signals when the audience reflects one or more of the following attributes:


They purchase books and educational materials on a range of topics like women’s studies, race relations, human rights, cultural policy and immigration.


They are fans of artists who are promoters of DEI.


They consume multilingual content with English subtitles.


“At Amazon Ads, we have a legacy of inclusion,” said Sunny Youn, global head of agency analytics at Amazon Ads. “By introducing Allies of Diversity, we wanted to enable our partner agencies and advertisers to reach consumers who reflect our own leadership principles.”


Taking a fully inclusive approach can be transformative for building or rebuilding brand affinity, authenticity and innovation—and, ultimately, boosting the bottom line.


Monday, August 28, 2023

16365: Honestly Speaking Out On Anonymity In Adland.


Digiday Media’s Worklife published a report on the use of anonymous surveys to assess staff morale and assorted sentiments, ultimately leveraging the responses to make changes. The report, however, states that employees prefer external platforms like Glassdoor to share opinions and air grievances—feeling greater comfort and safety in such spaces. This seemingly holds true in Adland too, although things like the original AgencySpy, Diet Madison Avenue, and even The Big Tent at Advertising Age have been short-lived endeavors. Hard to believe people in the industry are lacking opinions. It's more likely that the ruling majority has successfully squelched revolutionary spirits—which, incidentally, is a key component of systemic racism.


Are anonymous company surveys really anonymous?


By Hailey Mensik


Internal workplace surveys are a primary tool for employers to gauge morale and other sentiments across staff and use those insights to make changes. But employees can feel unsure about just how anonymous their answers will be, making survey results potentially less accurate in showing what’s actually going on.


HR experts say anonymous surveys really are just that though, and companies need to better communicate it. They also need to be more transparent about the results and more willing to solicit additional and open feedback.


Employers in the past few years have leaned heavily on internal surveys to gauge burnout levels during the pandemic and attitudes about returning to office. They also used them amid the great resignation and competition for talent to make changes and better retain staff.


And yet, people can feel more comfortable confiding on external platforms. More employees have taken to public, online platforms like Glassdoor where they feel more secure sharing their grievances and asking for advice from others who currently or previously worked for the same employer.


Almost 70% of U.S.-based employees wish they had a way to ask coworkers and company leaders anonymous questions at work, a survey from Glassdoor found, and over 60% wish they had an online community where they could get career advice on dealing with workplace specific-challenges.


Some employers have taken big steps to ensure employees feel safe telling the truth, like Poll Everywhere, a company that administers those surveys. Creating trust between employees and company leaders is key, said Robert Graham, CEO of Poll Everywhere.


“We don’t even use our own products internally because technically some engineers have some access to the data,” Graham said.


Employers can sow mistrust by not ensuring anonymity, even if they claim surveys are anonymous. But also when they neglect to share survey results and communicate steps forward with staff, Graham said.


“I would think that if you were making decisions based on the information, you’d want to share it because it would support the decision,” he said.


Beyond making survey results known, employers should also continue the discussion with staff in a more formalized way.


They can supplement surveys with town hall meetings or by facilitating other ways for staff to give open feedback, said Josh Bersin, an analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, a research and advisory firm focused on corporate learning, talent management and HR. They should also limit discussion in those meetings to specific topics like pay, leave, remote work and other focused points covered in surveys.


Crowdsourcing is another powerful tool. For example, during the pandemic Pepsi asked its staff “if you could shred or eliminate one process in your job what would it be?”


Anonymous answers were collected then viewed by staff who could make and rate each other’s suggestions for proposed solutions. The consensus was a need to streamline the performance appraisal process, which Pepsi then re-engineered based on the feedback, Bersin said.


“It forces people to evaluate and rate each other’s suggestions,” he said. “If you don’t do that, you get 100 suggestions on 100 different things.”

Sunday, August 27, 2023

16364: Subscribing To Stereotypes…?


In these enlightened times of the NFL Washington Commanders and the MLB Cleveland Guardians, why is this magazine title still riding?

Saturday, August 26, 2023

16363: Ads Of The Exclusive World.

Noting again how Ads of the World—part of the Clio Network—features a wide variety of Collections. In fact, the Collections continue to expand, adding 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 4/20, Frito Lay, PepsiCo, and even Barbie. Of course, there’s ample representation for White women, neurodiversity, and LGBTQIA+ performative patronization.


Yet there’s nothing for Black, Latinx, Asian (besides Chinese/Lunar New Year Ads—featuring work mostly created by White advertising agencies), or Indigenous Peoples. Multicultural marketing is excluded from the festivities.


It’s a perfect reflection of Adland of the World.

Friday, August 25, 2023

16362: TGIF NDA WTF.


Campaign published a lengthy report on NDAs—non-disclosure agreements—which have allegedly been used by White advertising agencies to hush victims of abuse and harassment from bullying, sexism, and racism. Although most victims, especially victims of racism, don’t get an NDA—they get NADA.


Harassment in adland: agencies hesitate in stamping out gagging clauses


By Gurjit Degun


When the “Make NDAs Fair” pledge launched in May 2022, it was a rallying cry to the industry to do better. For too long non-disclosure agreements have been used by corporations to hush victims of abuse, be it around sexual harassment, bullying, racism or sexism.


The pledge was led by a group of industry volunteers – including Jo Wallace, global executive creative director at MediaMonks; Shilpen Savani, a partner at law firm Gunnercooke; and Jerry Daykin, head of global media at Beam Suntory and diversity ambassador at World Federation of Advertisers – and backed by trade associations. It asked businesses to adopt fairer policies when it came to NDAs.


These included absolute freedom to report workplace abuse and sexual harassment; a company paying compensation to settle a workplace abuse and/or sexual harassment claim should have no link to a complainant’s silence; protection of reputation should apply to the employer only, so no blanket protection for individuals; and workers should be independently advised before accepting an NDA.


So a year on, how much has actually changed? Sharon Lloyd Barnes, commercial director and inclusion lead at the Advertising Association (which was one of the original backers of the campaign), believes that the dial is turning. She points to the All In census findings.


In 2022 1% of women and 1% of men (out of 18,500 people) who responded to the survey said that they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace; this is compared with 3% of women and 2% of men (16,000 replied to the survey) in 2021.


“We are sure this is down to industry engagement in TimeTo [the industry initiative that offers training to tackle sexual harassment in adland] and also an increase in self-policing and allyship that we now see in the ad industry workplace,” she says.


Savani believes that the “Make NDAs Fair” pledge has had an impact. “There’s a far greater awareness that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable,” he says.


“What I’m finding as a lawyer who is at the coal face of this is that agency lawyers are much more sensitive and understanding about the dangers of misusing secrecy clauses,” Savani says.


He hopes that the movement has also led to people who may be experiencing harassment to know that they are not alone. Savani believes that there are now more people who will speak out about harassment, and those that may harass should be aware that there is a greater chance of them being outed publicly.


“If the victims are less afraid of being clobbered with unfair secrecy clauses, they’re more able to speak out. And if they’re able to speak out, protagonists have fewer places to hide,” he explains.


Low take-up


Despite the NDA and TimeTo campaigns increasing awareness around harassment, it is not always the case that employers are making policy changes.


In this year’s annual School Reports questionnaire Campaign asked its 100 UK agencies whether they had signed up to the “Make NDAs Fair” pledge at the end of 2022; just 15 said that they had.


A total of 74 agencies said they had not signed up to the commitment, 10 didn’t know and one didn’t answer the question.


As the “Make NDAs Fair” campaign was not supported by funding, Savani explains that it’s difficult to give strict measurables around it.


Campaign contacted a number of the 74 agencies that had not signed up to find out what was stopping them, but only one agreed to speak on the record.


One person who runs an agency that has signed the pledge, but only agreed to speak with Campaign anonymously, believes many large organisations think that if they look at NDAs, lots of other changes to policies will have to be done at the same time.


“It’s this sort of corporate smush of, ‘Oh, once we’ve committed to doing that, then where does it all end?’” they say.


Another reason for adland hesitating to take action may be due to employers worrying about the negative perception it could create.


Pippa Glucklich, chief executive of Electric Glue, notes only 77 out of the 304 agencies that have pledged to support TimeTo have completed the associated training that was introduced in 2021.


Writing in Campaign last month, she suggested some businesses “fear that participating in such training may inadvertently signal that a business already has a problem with sexual harassment that needs dealing with”.


The belief that sexual harassment is an “old problem from a previous era” and a lack of understanding of exactly what it is may also be causing the lack of engagement, Glucklich added.


When it comes to the 15 shops that have signed up to the Make NDAs Fair pledge, six are independent agencies and nine are part of a wider network or holding company.


Many of those that Campaign contacted did not reply, declined to comment or would only speak off the record.


One agency boss that did agree to speak with Campaign on the record is Jenny Biggam, co-founder of independent media agency the7stars. She says that nothing has changed since the shop signed the pledge.


“But that’s not a bad thing,” she explains. “We signed it because we have never hidden behind NDAs to cover up bad behaviour. Instead, we have a supportive HR team who are qualified to provide support to everyone individually, and to deal with any issues.”


The7stars introduced the pledge as part of a series of initiatives around safety ranging from bystander training, the TimeTo pledge and the Mayor of London’s Women's Night Safety Charter, which aims to tackle violence against women and girls.


Another agency leader (who wished to remain anonymous) that has signed the pledge also explains that the shop is very open with staff, and has a culture where people are able to speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace.


‘Upskill’ HR to protect victims


Some agencies that have not signed up noted on their School Reports form that they have in-house policies that encourage staff to speak out about concerns anonymously. One of these is Oliver, which introduced its “Safe to say” platform in 2021 during the Black Lives Matter movement to allow staff to speak up about racism. The business quickly realised that the policy should be open for people to speak up about anything.


Amina Folarin, UK group chief executive and global chief inclusion officer, says that signing up to pledges in the industry is one thing but questions if agencies are “walking the walk”.


She believes that when a situation gets to the NDA stage it’s too late, as the damage has already been done. Instead, Folarin wants to know about grievances as soon as they arise.


“We want to create a culture of physical safety where people can speak up about their experiences,” she explains and adds that most organisations are being passive in their approach to dealing with harassment in the workplace.


To create these safe spaces, Folarin says that businesses need to “upskill” HR teams. She previously worked as Oliver’s global people director and has held talent and HR roles at other companies including Digitas and ITV.


“I cannot emphasise enough the role of HR,” she explains. “If you create safety for HR they can be empowered to do the right thing by the individual instead of doing what’s right by the business – because what’s right for the business is to protect the victim, not the perpetrator.”


She encouraged Oliver’s HR team to put themselves in the shoes of the victim. “When people raise a grievance, it is assumed that the person wants to cause trouble, but what if they have been genuinely grieved and what does that mean for them? So it’s about changing the mindset.”


The results of this means that Folarin has noticed that people working at Oliver are generally more aware of their actions.


But there is still the wider industry to consider. Amy Kean, founder and creative director of Good Shout, a training provider for advertising and media businesses, says that she is constantly hearing stories about sexual harassment in adland. She doesn’t think that anything has changed over the past year.


“I’m not discrediting the individuals behind the [Make NDAs Fair] initiative because I think they had the very best intentions,” she says. “But I think what we’re dancing around and tiptoeing around is the fact that industry people are trying to do every single thing apart from tackle the issue, which is abusive men. No one is doing that. It makes me angry.


“You can have as many workshops that you like attended by reluctant employees who are just treading water through the process but you are not going to prevent criminals – sexual harassers and sexual abusers – from not harassing. And what people are not acknowledging is that it’s a crime.”




Whistleblowing systems, which often include phone lines, are another way for staff to speak up about unacceptable behaviour.


Three of the “big six” holding companies – WPP, Publicis Groupe and Dentsu – publish the number of reports they receive at a global level.


At WPP, incidents dropped by around 25% in 2022 year on year – there were 494 reports in 2021 and 372 in 2022. The most commonly raised concerns in 2022 were around “respect in the workplace” and “protection of WPP’s assets”.


Publicis Groupe’s whistleblowing cases rose 121% year on year with 84 reports in 2022 and 38 in 2021. The business said 70% of the 2022 cases were internal reports and 52% of cases concerned HR issues.


The latest data from Dentsu International is from 2021. Its “Speak up” platform, which is a portal where staff can raise complaints confidentially, received 38 cases in 2021, a 12% fall from 43 in 2020. In 2019 it had 35 reports and there were 44 in 2018 and 12 in 2017.


It is very difficult to draw any sound conclusions from this data about whether the system is helping people to speak up about harassment – mainly because the companies do not specify exactly what the whistleblowing reports are about.


One agency executive who wanted to remain anonymous explains that companies are increasingly encouraging staff to report untoward behaviour, for example through posters in the office, which is a positive step.


Though the change in approach is often due to external pressure, they say. They explain that a reason why companies are taking a stronger stance on sexual harassment and bullying is because there are so many more channels where people can go public with their experience. They add that a rise in cancel culture has also helped.


However, they say that it often depends on how confident someone is in their career and life as to whether they will report a colleague. So often those that are vulnerable will only speak out once they have worked out an exit plan.


‘The job is never done’


Kean’s solution to the problem is to have an independent body auditing agencies. “It’s great to get people to sign a pledge but you absolutely need to have some kind of auditing process, and that unfortunately requires some cash commitment because you need people to do the work. I would love to see the day when there is some kind of central auditing body that actually measures integrity and behaviour in this space.”


Savani adds that it’s easy to have platitudes in this area. He says that policies are meaningless unless they are implemented in a practical and realistic way. “The way that we put that campaign together was specifically ensuring there were very clear lines to ensure that there would be compliance and there’s no creeping backwards when committing to the pledge.


“That, I think, is very different to what some of the agencies are talking about of their own admission. And I think it’s an important distinction to make – having generic commitments is one thing but signing up expressly to this type of commitment which ensures this kind of thing actually stops, it’s a different kind of support for the whole thing.”


Looking ahead, the Make NDAs Fair steering group is set to meet in September to discuss the next steps.


Biggam adds: “The job is never done and it’s a commitment to continuous improvement that’s important. In the last few years there has certainly been a greater awareness and understanding, which can only be a good thing.”

Thursday, August 24, 2023

16361: Courage, Complicity & Cultural Cluelessness.


4As EVP Talent, Equity & Learning Solutions Tahlisha Williams published a perspective on the “DEI&B crisis” in White advertising agencies, calling for “courage over complicity” as a crisis management tactic. The EVP also suggested focusing on “five key areas to establish and advance DEIB as a core, strategic business imperative.”


It’s a well-intentioned—albeit thoroughly unoriginal—viewpoint which appears with regularity these days from a variety of trade journals and do-gooder sources. Yet it’s arguably based on flawed thinking.


For starters, too few—if any—Caucasians in White ad shops think the situation is a crisis. Additionally, the ruling majority seems quite comfortable and content with complicity over courage.


Regarding the five keys, no one is using them to open doors to opportunity—opting for the close confinement of systemic racism. Establishing and advancing DEI&B as a core strategery and business imperative ain’t happening either.


All of which delegates Chief Diversity Officers and Talent, Equity & Learning Solutions Experts to serve as performative PR publishers.


Courage over complicity: Addressing the DEI&B crisis in ad agencies


By Tahlisha Williams


Headlines over the past few months have painted a clear, yet disconcerting, picture of the DEI&B landscape.


Across most industries, companies are struggling to chip away at the DEI&B commitments they’ve made to provide underrepresented communities access, exposure and opportunities.


Unfortunately, the advertising industry is among them.


After three years, the 4A’s 2023 Diversity in Agencies Survey Report still finds a significant lack of diverse representation at the most senior levels of agency communities, and this is a signal in the wrong direction of progress. The most recent report found a significant drop in representation at higher levels among Asian American, Hispanic/Latinx and Black/African American talent, while representation levels for Alaskan Native/Hawaiian/Native American/Pacific Islander employees remain near zero.


We’re openly shifting away from the basic principles of inclusion. Inclusion that ensures that the industry mirrors the representation of the creative brilliance and innovative thinking that comes from all people. I question whether we truly recognize the plight of underrepresented talent, or perhaps we’re choosing not to see it.


There’s not an availability issue; there’s an access issue. And instead of actively stewarding and advancing diverse talent within our industry, we continue to overlook them.


This industry is at a critical crossroad.


As a woman of color who is also living and walking through this space while trying to change it, I’m compelled to ask: Why is the industry not taking a collective stand to protect its greatest asset: our people?


When comparing nationwide DEI&B data against cultural events over the last few years, a troublesome trend is emerging. We saw many corporations publicly commit to improving DEI&B within their organizations in response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020. However, in the last three years, those commitments have been tested against economic uncertainty, anti-DEI&B policies and a growing fear of backlash against those who take a stand in support of DEIB.


We’ve also witnessed that once the focus on matters of equity for the Black community were no longer “trending,” many companies were quick to abandon their DEI&B agendas and return to status quo practices.


The urgent opportunity for the advertising industry is to place a higher value on ensuring that our DEI&B stance doesn’t fluctuate when we’re faced with challenges. We should be steadfast and immovable about prioritizing DEI&B. The 4A’s annual Diversity in Agencies Survey Report is part of our own ongoing commitment to the belief that prioritizing DEIB as a business imperative creates better business strategies, amplifies workplace culture and attracts, retains, and develops the best talent.


It’s time for the industry to reconvene on the state of DEI&B, and I believe that this work has to begin at the agency level. When agencies decide to get clear on why they believe DEI&B is important to their people, business and work, and follow through by taking the steps to ensure that this belief is sustainably embedded in their organizations, will we begin to see greater progress.


Agencies should focus on these five key areas to establish and advance DEIB as a core, strategic business imperative:


• Initiate uncomfortable conversations: We need to continuously confront the difficult truths about systemic industry practices, microaggressions, privilege and power within agencies to work toward curative solutions. Only through open and honest dialogue can we continue to dismantle barriers and biases that hinder DEI&B progress and invoke the change we want to see.


• Know and grow your culture: Talent attraction falls flat if your culture is not built to support and retain the diverse people you seek. Be honest about where you are in your DEI&B journey, but be intentional about creating a culture that represents what you believe — and, more importantly, is equitably illustrated through your actions.


• Create internal DEI&B talent opportunities: Agencies have to invest in underrepresented talent by hiring and developing them from within. This equity investment begins with a decision to find and hire diverse, emerging, non-traditional talent and a commitment to creating career paths where they can see themselves represented across the business. Talent succession requires intentional investment, preparation and planning.


• Go beyond mentorship and sponsorship: Mentorship and sponsorship programs help to guide, grow and cultivate diverse leaders. Find and hire program alumni. These future leaders represent some of the best and brightest talent in the industry and are ready to contribute to your agencies.


• Promote supplier diversity: Our industry thrives on partnerships, and by deliberately collaborating with diverse suppliers such as production houses, media companies or freelance creatives, we can ensure better representation within work that is reflective of the communities and consumers we serve.


It’s time for the industry to come together and be its own agent of change. It’s time to be willing to take courageous steps to represent and protect the people who create the work. Let’s shift away from the awards mentality, where we’re patting ourselves on the back, to addressing the uncomfortable spaces and actions needed to advance the diversity of talent who help the industry create its greatest work.


We can — and will — change. It’s simply a matter of courage over complicity.