THE GROUND IS SHIFTING
UNDERNEATH OUR INDUSRTY
Last year will be remembered as the year when ‘advertising’ as we know it changed for good. As we begin 2018, some stand on the edge of ‘Advertising 2.0’ and stare into the abyss, while others see a great opportunity to bring this relatively young business up-to-date and make it relevant again, make it push barriers, be disruptive, be a business that young people from all backgrounds want to contribute and make a difference to.
If you looked at our winners from the last few years, you’d be forgiven for thinking this has already happened. At British Arrows, we’ve loved seeing moving image advertising begin to reflect and celebrate the rich diversity of modern-day Britain on screen. Sadly, we can’t say the same for the people behind the scenes.
Everyone in our industry wants to keep creating the best and most relevant work but if the UK population isn’t being represented throughout our industry then how can we legitimately produce better work?
We all want this to change. And if we want industry-wide change, we need industry-wide action. As a prestigious awards body with strong industry heritage, we are in a privileged position to make a significant contribution.
HOW WE GOT MOVING
After four decades of working with the brightest creative minds in our country, British Arrows has thriving relationships with the best in British agency, production, post and audio. We’ve seen first hand our industry’s willingness to diversify, with several bodies rolling out academies and training schemes to attract underrepresented talent. But we’ve also seen how difficult it can be to cut through the white noise and deliver something tangible. Something that actually works.
Equality and opportunity for all is the goal. We recognise our industry’s inclusivity issues are many and that we can’t solve them all, but together we can do our very best. It’s clear that there is a passion for change, and passion will drive that change. We want to scrutinise and celebrate that passion - the individuals, the groups and the companies that are starting to make a difference - but we also think it's vital, where possible, to help minimise the crossovers and gaps by identifying them and mapping them out. This will help new groups champion areas of need and will also help anyone ‘looking in’ to see where to find support.
When Charlie Crompton joined British Arrows as Chairman in 2016, he had an agenda. Sensing the looming stagnation of a cushy industry, he brought in new board members to provide fresh perspective. To help realise and deliver that vision, Janey de Nordwall was appointed as Managing Director. Together, they set out on a mission: To future-proof the advertising industry by encouraging the Dreamers from wherever they came.
After extensive research, and through the unique connections we made, we found that the best space that British Arrows can be in - to genuinely make a difference - is to focus on clearing the way for young creative talent, specifically BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) creative talent. We knew the industry needs - and wants - to engage and hire this demographic, but they weren't connecting with the industry. To find out why, we headed out to grass-roots community centers, schools and training providers to hear their side of the story.
The good news is that fresh talent is out there - lots of it. It's young, it's intelligent, and it's driven - exactly what the advertising industry needs right now. The young people we met had new ideas, genuine passion and the experience that we need to stay relevant - and it's embarrassing that, up until now, they've been severely underrepresented at our industry awards.
So let's get them in, right?! Well, in not-so-good news, this demographic largely assumes our industry isn't for them. In focus groups they believed, "you need a degree," or "family money to work unpaid," or "an uncle in the business." And while some said advertising "looked fun," many said their parents were actively discouraging them from entering the creative industries. One girl experienced this first-hand when she quit her medical studies to follow a passion for storytelling and was disowned for it.
The really bad news? Over half the teenagers we met didn't even know an 'advertising industry' existed. Ironically, it seemed our industry has failed with its most important pitch: to sell itself as a viable career to a new generation.
And like that, the stars aligned. Our niche was forming… British Arrows is not an academy. We're not a training scheme. We don't make the beautiful, poignant and funny films we award. But we know the people who do, and we now know the people who would, if they knew there is a door to our industry they are welcome to kick open! We are the Doorway. Which uniquely positions us the conduit between the two.
A year ago, Charlie told Campaign magazine about British Arrows' plans to encourage the Dreamers, the Disadvantaged, the Doubting, the Disconnected. We're now ready to nurture these Devoted, Defiant, Deserving young creatives into our industry. We're ready to rally for the D's, so we've formed BAD: the British Arrows Doorway for young talent to connect with the industry and vice versa.
Through an exclusive collaboration with ERIC, the revolutionary Creative Careers Festival, we're able to connect with more than seven thousand young people (50:50 male:female and 60:40 BAME:white) exhibiting exactly the kind of tenacity, driving passion and idiosyncrasy on which our industry thrives. With ERIC, we're inviting young creatives into focus groups, listening to their stories, gathering their CVs, and building a social media following that's ready to respond to opportunities as they arise. So that next time you're looking to hire young, talented individuals who are ready to work - we can connect them to you.
From ERIC's talent pool, we captured a number of young filmmakers who stood out from the crowd. Their personal stories blew us away as did their talent and drive. Some already have their own production companies, others have created over two hundred films from their bedrooms. And all represent the future of British film advertising. Class of 2017 are the interns and apprentices who've already been given a chance to impact our industry, and are delivering beautifully. Class of 2018 are the creators of tomorrow - ready to shine, yet to be invited.
So, we're reaching out to parents and teachers to assure them advertising is welcoming and nurturing people from all backgrounds. We're assuring them it pays - at the least National Minimum Wage but has the potential to pay a lawyers or doctors salary. We're assuring them it can provide challenge and room for growth, and that the 2.9 million jobs in the UK creative economy provide just as much stability and longevity as the more traditional careers.
What exactly one does in advertising seemed, to many, to be shrouded in darkness. So to help young creatives navigate the industry, we've created PYXIS: an informative and fully interactive guide to all the different roles in advertising. Like its namesake in the sky, PYXIS will serve as a compass to guide emerging creatives to the roles available across agency, production, post and audio. Following a successful beta launch at the latest ERIC Festival, PYXIS will be available online and free for all to use. And it's brilliant.
The overwhelmingly positive response to these initiatives - from filmmakers, parents and industry leaders alike - has made us proud to join a growing movement for greater inclusivity in advertising. Still, we're aware of our limitations. Of course BAME aren't the only underrepresented group - and we look forward to collaborating across our industry to promote inclusivity for all. But it's important that we start somewhere we can make a tangible difference, rather than embrace such a wide brief that it becomes impossible to actually achieve anything.
In the coming months, we'll be sharing the results of our findings and projects:
We'll be launching a series of video podcasts, in which our young talent is interviewed by senior industry influencers. By flipping the dynamics in this way, we want to reiterate our commitment to learning and changing by listening to our youth. We're running bespoke and unique recruitment drives that engage and excite young people.
Our weareBAD.org.uk website and @weare_BAD social media channels host PYXIS, the video podcasts, mythbusting films, actionable knowledge from people in the industry and a section where we connect talent with the industry.
By the end of Charlie's tenure in 2019, we aim to be known as the conduit between these two worlds, to have matched each member of our board with a mentee, to have placed at least 25 young people in advertising roles and to have effectively nurtured the next generation of the best talent.
The ground may be shifting underneath our feet, but at British Arrows, we keep our eyes firmly on the prize: An award ceremony that celebrates the brightest creative minds our country has to offer.
Let's make sure they all know they're invited.