By Henry Foenander
At a Creative Social event earlier this week, the brilliant Caroline Pay said “Diversity should be like oxygen”.
And too bloody right.
It’s extremely satisfying to know that the conversation is being had, it gives me faith that the industry is, or at least can be, as forward thinking as i’d hoped.
I’m proud that countless Initiatives are aiming to make what Caroline said a reality.
And i’m proud that SCA has recently launched it’s own plan to tackle the diversity issue (details below).
Working on the launch of this got me thinking about the problem of diversity, especially at student level. Schools, universities and agencies need diversity, it’s logic. How can you claim to be able to tackle different problems if you don’t have talent who have led different lives?
The biggest problem I can see, is that the famous ad-bubble, is more of an ad-cage.
Have you ever wondered how people even know a career in advertising is a possibility? Well for the most part, they don’t.
I was one of the lucky few with family in the industry, I had the most obvious, easy in. and even then I didn’t really know much about it until I visited SCA.
So now imagine what it must be like for someone without any ties to the industry.
Maybe someone who doesn’t think university is an option, someone who won’t get any careers guidance at all. They could be the most creative, exciting, talented kid in the world, but if they’ve never heard of what the job is, and how great it is, they’re not going to even have the chance to consider it.
This is where the industry needs to change. It needs to stop assuming diverse young people know about advertising, they really, really don’t.
I think it’s time to open the door of the cage and start telling people what’s happening on the inside. Tell them why they should consider coming in, roll out the welcome mat. We should be dragging people inside the cage, not waiting for them to break the doors down.
On the off chance this post ends up on the feed of some 16 year old kid who thinks A-Levels are wank, but wants a genuinely fulfilling life, I thought i’d write a few reasons why you should consider advertising. An advert for advertising…
1. It’s not anywhere near as uptight as it sounds. When you think of advertising, you probably think of a load of old dudes in grey suits sitting at a big table in a steel office, thinking up new ways to manipulate the masses. Nope. It’s about creativity, and how to use it to solve genuine problems.
2. If you fidget, if you get bored easily and if you can’t stand doing the same thing day in day out, this is the career for you. In advertising you get to work on so many projects, so many products, with so many clients that it’s practically impossible to get bored. And even if you do, chances are the next brief you get will be right up your alley.
3. You can earn good money.
4. You get to make. There’s nothing more satisfying than putting something out there into the world.
5. Wherever you’re from, whoever you are, you being you makes you an expert on something. You could have been raised by a pack of wolves and only eaten pineapple for the first 10 years of your life, but when that pineapple smoothie brief comes along, you’ll be an expert. Insights are what drive advertising, and the best insights always come from experiences. Your experiences are beyond valuable in this industry.
5. You’re shit at maths. Or any other subject for that matter. Advertising isn’t academic, unless you want it to be. you don’t need a degree, you don’t need a perfectly printed CV, you just need creativity, which brings me on to my next point.
6. You can learn to be a creative. The people who do well in this industry aren’t necessarily the ones with a natural talent for creative arts. If you graft hard enough, if you learn the techniques, if you study other peoples successes and failures, you’ll soar.
7. You’ll make a difference. Imagine being the person who came up with the ‘Ice bucket challenge’, whoever it was can claim they cured a disease. Damn I wish i’d had that idea.
8. The people are (generally) really good people. The industry runs on collaboration and generosity. I’m a poor, feeble, insignificant student, yet throughout the year industry leaders have spent hours of their time working with me. You won’t get that kind of help in any other industry.
9. It’s really bloody fun. Really, it is. I can’t imagine any other job that let’s you have fun like advertising does. Except maybe an ice cream van driver.
These few, little reasons aren’t enough to convince young, diverse people to join our industry. We need more, and we need to tell them directly, not just hope a blog spot lands on one of their feeds (who even uses twitter anymore Henry, god, your so 2010).
But let’s make the effort to open the cage door, and run screaming in the faces of young people about how good our lives are. Then we can hope they’ll want to join us. And let’s support the initiatives that are already doing what i’ve been blabbering on about. Start with something simple, support the SCA scholarships, speak at a school, call your old universities, anything.
Going back to what Caroline Pay said: “Diversity should be like oxygen”, I think it’s time to crack open a window and let some fresh air in.