No. And I very much doubt that you enjoyed their trust in the first place. You certainly won’t enjoy their respect. Only a stupid person would hope to undermine a journalist by suggesting they wrote something out of spite: a pointless, petty little gesture with absolutely no chance of achieving anything other than confirming the journalist of your insignificance. I’ve noticed that when hiring entry-level people, our chief creative officer seems to have an overwhelming preference for people who were privately educated, even though they do not always seem to be the most exciting candidates. How can I bring this up without seeming like a class warrior? David Ogilvy famously believed in hiring “gentlemen with brains”. It seemed to serve his agency extremely well. Were he to express the same opinion today, however, he’d probably have to join Kevin Roberts on the naughty step. But there’s one word you can use without fear of being thought a class warrior – or, indeed, of being anything politically incorrect – and that’s ‘diversity’.
Diversity in a workforce is universally held to be A Good Thing – and you can safely suggest to your chief creative officer that a recruitment policy that encouraged more diversity might be to the agency’s advantage. As indeed it might be, though even diversity needs to be selective.
Some people like to argue that advertising people should accurately mirror the people for whom they’re crafting their ads. But if an agency chose its workforce to be an exact microcosm of the population as a whole, it would find itself paying a significant number of crooks and perverts and at least 15 per cent of staff numbers would be very stupid indeed. ( This outcome can often be achieved quite naturally and needs no help from a calculated recruitment policy.)
The most valuable diversity in an agency has little if anything to do with class, ethnicity or education but has all to do with thinking. Agencies need both the ruthlessly deductive and the unanchored intuitive. Both those who can unearth an insight on page 97 of a 32,000-word research report and those who can solve a problem in less than a second because of the concrete-mixer they happened to see on the way to work. Both those who can think straight and those who can think round corners. I have been asked to speak at an event on diversity in advertising by my chief executive. Apart from talking about the importance of diversity at conferences, my company has done nothing to engender meaningful change despite the best efforts of junior staff. Should I tell the truth? What a happy coincidence. We were just talking about diversity. This seems an excellent opportunity for you to goad your CEO into actually doing something. Reveal to the conference your agency’s detailed and fully funded plans to increase levels of diversity – particularly of the kind featured above. Be sure that you give your CEO full public praise for his vision and leadership. Then, after the conference, thank your CEO for the support he gave you and show him a compilation of the praise he received in his absence for the farsightedness of his detailed and fully funded plans. Among those who most admired his initiatives are a few potential clients. Oh, yes. It certainly counts as non-working to spend tens of thousands of pounds on online ads that nobody sees. Or agreeing to the design of a 48- sheet poster that might have been OK as a DPS but is totally indecipherable from passing traffic. Or expecting your consumers to do your work for you by instructing them to visit your website. Oh, blimey. What kind of column do you think this is? Talk to your future wife or your future husband, not me. It’s your wedding, not mine. If you see your wedding as a potentially critical event in your career path, I fear for both your career and your marriage.