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“The Advertising Industry Needs to Work This Out in the Open, and Own It”


Anti-Racism production terms updated as part of ongoing conversation as Lief’s Margo Mars shares refinements and laser-focused edits

“The Advertising Industry Needs to Work This Out in the Open, and Own It”
It is two weeks since #blackouttuesday when many clients, agencies and production companies posted black squares in a show of solidarity against racism.
We’ve had two weeks to read, listen, and learn to convert our energy into action and apply the learnings. I received many stories, expertise and messages of support after posting our Anti-Racism Terms last week. Thank you especially to those in the UK BIPoC community for talking with me and giving your time and energy - it is your voices I want to uplift.
I have now updated the terms and added to these a start for a proposed model of solutions. I believe that the advertising industry needs to work this out in the open, and own it. So I’m getting out there again.

It is important to emphasise our proposal should go hand in hand with a hard commitment and collective work to be more representative and inclusive. The data on this is shocking, especially given that we live and operate in London with a 44% BIPoC community. 
I think on top of that, what will help us all (Production Company, Agency and Client) is to have some simple actionable guides, corrective terms, and to look at regulation at the highest level (ASA/CAP on portrayal for instance).
It’s one thing to make a pledge and statement that draws a clear line for ourselves, our clients and anyone we would work with - we are doing this, as are many companies (quietly) and they are most likely mirrors of each other. It’s another, to make the change as standard industry-wide and start to use our collective energy and power effectively in a show of real support to BIPoC community. 
We need to connect the dots.
There are many great clients and much fantastic advertising work being done. But I do believe the examples of racism I have been given are extremely common occurrences and they shouldn’t be.
Capitalism is never going to be moral, but we can choose who we work with, upfront. I don't want to be overruled with my hands tied when it comes to having to erase representation due to a client in Poland buying a version of the ad. Very specific illustration.
Regulations should be implemented so we are protected from directives of clients - especially where they change in the course of a project and we are being asked to cater for their bias.
It’s not enough to stand up on an individual level, it has to be backed up on an institutional level. Private conversations need to become public, and we must stop one-to-one arguments or an us-vs-them attitude.
Time is of the essence.
By examining cases upfront and normalising this as part of the process, these conversations become easier to have, as they will have a crystal clear guide.
Like we have pre-PIBS questions - did the client see the director’s reel? Did the client sign off on the casting approach in treatment? Are other territories going to buy in at a later stage and should we discuss implications?
I’m aware great resources already exist in fantastic organisations, and that those should be amplified, I’m not inventing anything new here. I share all my work and the stories we received from our community with these organisations, and I know they will use them and expose when needed to back up their work with the data. 

I continue to offer any labour on my end, resources, skills - whatever is necessary.

Margo Mars
Founder, Lief

Download updated terms here 

Photo by Erica Lewis on Unsplash
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