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Everybody's welcome

30 Aug 2019  |  David Pidgeon 
Everybody's welcome

There is a resurgence in the debate about private education taking place in the UK, no doubt fuelled by our new Prime Minister's own past, and this week we look at how social immobility might impact the media and advertising sectors.

Unlike race and gender, social mobility goes unmeasured in adland. Yet we know, anecdotally, that boardrooms and senior positions are dominated by those from privileged backgrounds.

We also know that in similar sectors, like PR, 34% of CEOs were privately educated, compared to just 7% of the total population.

Our view is that it is unwise to structure any business or sector in this way, but particularly advertising.

Adland is supposed to understand the Zeitgeist; it's how it taps into consumers, no matter their class, to flog them things. But it can't do this to its fullest if it doesn't employ people from all walks of life.

Perhaps if it did, it might have even predicted the EU referendum result. As it happens, adland was blindsided by the result, proving that it was - at least on some level - out of touch with the mood of the country.

Since 2016's vote, social divisions have only widened further. It's vital, therefore, that advertising does more to help anyone with talent to forge a meaningful career.

"The benefits of a diverse workforce are well-publicised, and for the media agency sector specifically we know diversity of experiences and opinions leads to more creative, relevant and groundbreaking communications planning," says the7stars' Helen Rose.

For this reason, the indy media agency has started to look at ways it can attract a broader range of recruits. Perhaps other media businesses will follow suit - and perhaps, longer term, they will see some tangible business benefit to boot.

Eve's marketing strategy tires us out

Eve Sleep, the DTC mattress business, this week unveiled a campaign demanding that sleep be recognised as a fundamental human right.

It even penned an open letter - showcased around Westminster on a large mobile screen - to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, calling on him to support the initiative, and named vulnerable groups of people whose health and wellbeing it claims could be dramatically improved by amending The Human Rights Act to include snoozing.

As long-suffering insomniacs, this struck a chord with the Mediatel News team. Certainly, getting people to recognise the impact of sleep on our health and mental wellbeing deserves support.

Yet, for another reason, it made us feel rather cynical.

Eve is not a mental well-being or health charity. It is not a medical practice. It flogs mattresses. And its bosses are probably losing sleep themselves given the business' share price has hit rock bottom. Within that context, is this real 'purpose' marketing, or a desperate and insincere stab at reversing Eve's fortunes without having to spend too much advertising dosh on real media?

It's true that many consumers want brands to have some kind of social conscience, or to stand for something.

But it's not right for every brand and it's starting to feel like 'brand purpose' is being wielded about like some sugar high infant with a toy lightsabre.

Purpose for purpose's sake is just lazy, cynical marketing - and any savvy consumer is going to spot that a mile off.

If Eve's campaign pays off, we'll eat our words - but to 'pay off', it needs to both change The Human Rights Act and see the business' fortunes turnaround.

Don't bite off more purpose than you can hope to chew.


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21 Jan 2020 

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