Celebrating Diversity in Creative at Campaign I+C Disruptors

Celebrating Diversity in Creative at Campaign I+C Disruptors

Our Microsoft-dedicated m:united team was recently honored for their #MakeWhatsNext work at Campaign Magazine's I+C Disruptor event, which celebrated work that shatters stereotypes and promotes inclusivity and creativity in the ad industry. This is a new award and conference for our industry, and the strong turnout proved that there is an appetite for these types of forums.  

CampaignUS editor-in-chief Doug Quenqua welcomed the attendees and kicked off the event by noting that it’s always easier to steer clear of controversy, and to remain quiet in uncomfortable situations that arise around race, gender, LGBTQ and disability issues. But today, he said, “We are here to make it a little harder to do nothing…and perhaps a little easier to do something.” 

What followed was a half-day discussion around everything from diversity quotas to building a culture of inclusion to a “total market” approach in an increasingly multicultural world. 

Marc S. Strachan, VP, corporate relations, constituent affairs at Diageo delivered a fiery speech about how to pull the current ad culture, rooted in a legacy of exclusivity and inequality, into the here and now. His advice: “You need to burn it to the ground and rebuild it.”

Holly Brittingham of FCB discussed how her own agency is transforming its culture through inclusion efforts. She said targeting specific groups like women or minorities is not the way to go – the approach to diversity needs to be holistic to be successful.  

One of the most interesting panels of the day took an analytical look at diversity quotas and if this approach is really a best path forward. Most of the panelists agreed that quotas are more of a short-term solution and the more difficult piece is developing long-term goals. While quotas may deliver a specific number-based goal, they don’t address the systemic problems. Also, quotas make more sense for bigger, older companies versus startups with younger, smaller workforces which tend to have talent coming to them.

Another panel discussed multicultural agencies and their role in the future. The key takeaway: multicultural agencies will fall to the wayside. In an increasingly multicultural world, one would think these agencies are well poised for growth. But because they tend to lack the resources and infrastructure, the reality is that most will fold. Only the exceptional will survive and thrive. 

Speakers from YouTube and Droga5 discussed approaches to handling backlash to creative work that depicts diverse scenarios. For example, negative comments. They offered up a couple therapeutic solutions. Danielle Tiedt of YouTube said they once shredded negative comments and used them as confetti at a Pride parade. Droga5’s Kevin Brady said they once took 20,000 negative comments  on paper, rolled them up and spelled out “Love.” They agreed that while ignoring the negativity is the easier option, choosing to engage in that conversation – as difficult as it may be – is part of the work. Great example of doing something even though it would be easier to do nothing.

The I+C Disruptors conference was one of the more impassioned, thoughtful events I’ve attended recently, and we look forward to evolving these conversations at next year’s event.

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