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The shocking racist abuse aimed at our own industry colleagues

08 Jun 2020  |  Michaela Jefferson 
The shocking racist abuse aimed at our own industry colleagues

"I can't remember the last time someone called me a n***** ...since Sunday," says Chris Kenna, CEO and founder of Brand Advance.

He'd posted a video on Facebook from the Black Lives Matter march that day, and was inundated with more comments than he'd ever had - including racial slur after racial slur.

When he was younger, Jay Richards, founder of Gen-Z insights business Imagen, was pulled off a coach returning to the UK from France by the police to be searched. He was the only person to be searched in a coach that was otherwise entirely white except for one other black friend.

He says the crazy thing about that memory is that he is so used to micro-aggressions that he had forgotten about it until a friend reminded him.

On the 15th of April, Lydia Amoah, author of The Black Pound Report, was on a Zoom call in adland with 100 of her peers delivering a conversation around diversity and inclusion, when the call was infiltrated by international hackers. They took over the screen with dismembered bodies, and then singled Amoah out with racial abuse.

(Lydia has since written a policy document called STOPIT Protocol, providing a guide for employers on how to manage situations with 'hate hackers').

And on May 25 2020, George Floyd suffocated for almost nine minutes under the knee of a white police officer before finally dying.

Talking about race and racism and white privilege is an uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people.

We all want to do better, and with brands, agencies, media owners and other businesses posting on social media and signing open letters, pledging solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and promising change, the conversation needs to centre on how words become meaningful actions.

For brands, that means moving on from #blackoutTuesday black squares, undisclosed charity donations, cookie-cutter promises and shallow gestures. It means sorting out your own house first, and putting your money where your mouth is - including minding where the adspend ends up.

I spoke to those people who have been calling for change and guiding progress within our industry, including Chris, Jay and Lydia, about what brands are doing right, what they're doing wrong, what practical actions they can take now, and what the ultimate goal has to be.

Dino Myers-Lamptey, founder of The Barber Shop, Jake Dubbins, co-chair of the Conscious Advertising Network, and Andrew Tenzer, director of group insight at Reach Plc, also offered their expertise.

You can read the full piece here - its a deep dive.


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05 Aug 2020 

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