, 15 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
In 2016 I was named by Campaign Magazine in their top 10 trailblazers of the year for the work I am doing on Muslim audiences and representation. For someone who came to the industry as an outsider, that meant a great deal
It also felt like an industry recognising that it needs to change itself and the way it engages with the world around it. And since then there have been huge strides in opening a conversation about how the industry can do better.
I’ve worked hard to play my part in the change, highlighting with facts and stories why we need to change and how we can do it. I’ve been honoured to be recognised for the work, most recently by @EMpoweriB as one of their top 100 ethnic minority executives out-standing.org/empower/100-et…
I spend a lot of time talking to upcoming talent about the personal challenges of working in this sector, encouraging them to join an industry which they say is a closed shop, and whose output they feel alienates them. I encourage them to come in and create change.
I even started writing a monthly column for @Campaignmag itself with case studies dissecting brands who have got it spectacularly wrong when it comes to diversity. Here's an example campaignlive.co.uk/article/bodygu…
Then I saw this. My heart is in tatters. This face smiling at me tells me that the face of the industry has not changed as much as I thought. This is not provocative. This is not "conversation-starting". This is door-closing.
via @Campaignmag
It's personal, and that's hard to say when you're here as a professional. But it's personal for me and it should be for everyone. This face has been part of a backdrop to a rise in social hatreds which has seen my friends and peers being verbally and physically abused
Imagine how I felt when the magazine dropped, and this face is staring back at me on the front page. Imagine all those talented young people asking themselves if this is really the industry for them.
Being a ‘diversity champion’ doesn’t mean grabbing the trophy and adding the title to your byline. It’s not an achievement to add to a list, it’s a proactive responsibility which involves saying difficult things which might have personal and professional consequences.
Our work can be provocative and bold, it is okay to be polarising. But I think we can agree that some work might be a righteous force for good, and some might be bread and butter engagement or sales. But we don’t want to be a force for toxicity, danger and wrongheadedness.
When we praise a brand strategy like this but overlook the purpose of the brand, no wonder our industry is criticised. This piece reads as though it's about winning at all costs - but what about the price the rest of us are paying?
There's absolutely an argument to be made for analysing the success of his brand and campaigns. How did it work? What was the real machinery behind it? What questions of conscience would others have asked, what do we learn about toxic side effects?
There's also an argument for challenging our own thinking. But there's no argument that supports an analysis which is essentially a teenage groupie's view of a campaign that sets us back fifty years in terms of the culture we live in, and puts me, my family and friends in danger
There are some harder questions that should have been asked: is it ok to build a brand on false promises? Is it okay to plant seeds of insinuation and then deny them?
But mostly, why is this a front page smirk at people like me with a fan piece inside, rather than a rigorous analysis of a strategy that has certainly made an impact, but for a purpose that stinks?
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