“At the end of the day, we all have to check our privilege,” said Director of 1215creative Jenn Duoug, speaking on a panel on “The Cultural Revolution” at B.B. King. She was answering a question about the advice she would give young women looking to get into virtual reality. “It’s about finding mentors wherever you can. In VR, nobody is an expert because everyone is new. So, Start reading up on it. Start reaching out to the community because it’s so small right now that people like me will still reply to your tweets and meet for coffee,” she said.
“Don’t just check your privilege, share it,” said Urban Cultural Activist Michaela Angela Davis, offering her opinions on what to change in the advertising industry in the way of increasing diversity and inclusion. “Also, whether you’re a 72 year old president of the United States or a 17 year old girl, don’t be afraid to be your badass self. There’s no more time to apologize for your tits.”
Duong was keen on pointing out the difference between diversity and inclusion. Internally, increasing the former is a simple task – just meet an employee quota of minorities. But inclusivity is what really matters, she said. A workplace that’s inclusive of a diverse workforce is what makes them want to stay.
Duong added that advertisers, as storytellers, have an amazing opportunity to make a difference with emerging technologies. “VR is a huge empathy machine,” she said. But, with great opportunities come the duties of execution and those duties are burdened by fear.
The wonderful thing about Millennials is that they want a brand with a purpose. But it’s also true that it’s easier than ever to offend someone and cause backlash. That’s what brands are afraid of, said Rashad Drakeford, Head of Content at REVOLT.
He wants to see more brands get over that fear and take a side. “It bothers me when brands rely on black dollars and don’t stand for black issues,” said Drakeford.
“Corporations are seeing the numbers,” said Advertising Week Editor Ken Wheaton. “They know what the next census will look like.” Some time in the near future, white, heterosexual men will not be a the party with the most buying power. They’ll want to be on the right side of history when that day comes.
The consensus on the stage was that, in order to do that, advertisers need to tell real stories that lift people up.
“Yea, and don’t try to care. Care,” Davis said, directing her comment to marketers. “We can all tell when you’re fronting. It’s important to come from an authentic place.”
In other words, it’s a good thing to do good things for the sake of doing the good thing. Not everything needs to be profit-driven. If you, as a brand, are in a position to make a positive impact on the world and you don’t do that, sooner or later, people will notice.