8 And Rising - A good Way To Start Saving Ad Agencies

I read a good piece today by Indy Selvarajah on the Drum website. Have a read here. He's talking about how to get more people of colour (his words) into advertising agencies. I think this is a great subject.

This is kind of intertwined with something that we've being going on about for ages on this blog and in our book – which is that advertising has become far too populated for its own good by the same kind of polite middle-class people with university degrees.

These issues are intertwined because they all link back to the kind of people who are ending up in advertising. The same goes for the people who are calling for a more fair representation of women in the business, especially creative departments, especially at the top. There are other dynamics at play for certain, but part of it is definitely to do with the people who are trying to get into the business in the first place.

I think advertising would hugely benefit from being more representative of the world outside its glass staircases and foosball tables. More people of colour, as Indy says, more women in creative departments and in senior positions, more people from working class and lower middle class backgrounds, and more people who aren't graduates.

We've talked before about the demise of the Post Room as a way for people from different backgrounds to find their way into the industry.

I think Indy has a good take on what would help, and it's pretty simple...
I have set up an initiative called 8 (currently only 8 per cent of senior positions in ad land are held by those from minority backgrounds) and I invite all creatives, creative directors and executive creative directors to give up an hour of your time, twice a year to visit a school or college and talk about what you do. Show the ads you’ve made. Talk about a shoot. Where you’ve travelled to. The amazing, and not so amazing, directors you’ve worked with. If you’re over 50 tell them about the long lunches and short working hours you used to enjoy. And if you’re feeling brave, answer some of their questions. That’s it. It doesn’t seem like much, but I’m certain this is the most effective starting point in creating a more balanced, diverse, interesting and fun industry.
I think this is spot-on. I grew up in a normal, working-class family, and had no idea that advertising was something I could do as a job. I got (very) lucky because I somehow got myself into art school after a series of failed other directions and just happened to see that there were people doing advertising there – bloody hell, you can get paid for doing that kind of thing!

I think if we want to improve the business (and the output of the the business) we have to start here - attracting a wider range of people into the business in the first place. And of course (as if we need to say it) all jobs should be absolutely on merit, but if the pool of people better represents the population, we have a much better chance of getting both great talent and a diverse range of people in agencies.

This is the website for Indy's initiative: http://www.8andrising.com/

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