Diversity is not about compliance or tolerance, sensitivity or charity. It sparks our innovation by valuing differences, by choosing to look at problems from a different angle. It looks for solutions that benefit everyone, equally. What could be more important to our industry? Our agencies and our work must reflect the diversity of the marketplaces we serve, from the talent in our commercials to the messages we send. It is imperative in today’s world. But it must be genuine.
In India, DDB Mudra created one of the biggest street art collaborations for Puma Suede, a brand that has always been the voice of the street culture. Bringing together graffiti, rap and dance, they collaborated with eight rappers, seven street artists, and 32 dancers from four different cities with four different languages. The massive fusion project skyrocketed Desi Hip-Hop artist Divine from the slums of Mumbai to worldwide star.
In New Zealand, a simple casting decision added more to the story they told. Inspired by a true account of a former Lottery winner who pledged to share his winnings with his best mate, their film for NZ Lotteries connected with audiences across the country, casting a ‘Pākehā bloke’ (aka white Kiwi) alongside a younger, Indian man. The two-minute film broke the standard time block rules, reminding us that the right content is what captures attention.
Bill Bernbach and his teams broke all the rules of advertising. They grabbed people’s attention with fresh images and a way of speaking that were pulled from the communities in which they lived. The talent in their ads was sometimes literally someone they passed on the street. The diversity of the agency and the work they produced stood out against the cookie cutter work of the day. They were tuned in to the changing society of their time and welcomed the responsibility they had as communicators to “uplift society”.
We must never forget our role or the influence our work may have on the world.