Hey Adland, Where’s All The Indigenous Creatives?

Hey Adland, Where’s All The Indigenous Creatives?

In this guest post for B&T, Pluto Media CEO Peter Kirk (pictured below) says for all the talk of a more diverse advertising landscape, not enough is being done to promote the industry’s Indigenous talent…

Do you want a more diverse adland? Join B&T at this year’s Changing The Ratio on 30th May…

As I sit down to write this article we have just had the long weekend to celebrate Australia Day, two major accounts have been lost and won by agencies, the annual Lamb Ad is doing the rounds and Australia appears more creatively fractured then in any other time that I can remember.


Where do I start – The Lamb ad by the Monkeys is great self -effacing, funny and gets the message across. Well done to the team at The Monkeys.

The usual articles and hyperbole came out about Australia Day, shall we change the date, shall we not change the date,?  I don’t have an answer to this question to be honest however I think we should focus on changing the nation more than changing the date, and of course this is a massive statement, which requires a lot of work, conversation and honesty.

Now onto the two accounts being won by large agencies. Defence Force Recruiting went to VML and Y&R and Tourism Australia went to Clemenger.

I know a handful of people at both of those agencies, there are some talented people that work there and I’m sure that they had to jump through a highly competitive RFT to win the accounts however I can’t help but ask the question – How many Indigenous people are actually working within these agencies that won these accounts and why shouldn’t brands start asking these questions in the tender process?

I have met with quite a few agencies and brands over the last few months and the most common question I get asked is, “Where are the Indigenous creative people, I can’t find them?”

I find this question baffling, amusing and a wonderful example of the insular nature of the industry we work in. There are no shortage of websites you can go to, to start a conversation with Indigenous people, social media pages, blogs, educational units, scholarship foundations, the list is actually quite big. All you need to do is start thinking outside your normal recruiting practices.

Which leads me to the main point of this article: I believe that agencies should set up small Indigenous creative teams working within the larger agencies.

Once you start breaking down this concept it makes sense. I’m not saying that we kick this off tomorrow.

I’m saying this should be something that all the large agencies should start implementing pathways to accomplish.

There are many benefits to this

  • Having a small group of team members working together will allow greater trust and confidence
  • The interaction will be greater
  • Each team member will have more comfortable “voice”
  • All team members will be more aware of the work, success failures and direction as a group
  • The ability to feel part of something will be greater
  • Brands will appreciate that Indigenous people have been included in the creative proces, companies are looking for diverse teams to avoid cultural mistakes.

These teams are being developed in the US. Droga 5 has developed a small team of African American creatives. ADcolor has been created to develop more diversity into the ad space.

The Sundance Native labs are doing wonderful work, creating native and indigenous workshops for film – makers and producers to work together to develop films and stories. Some of the best indie films to come out of Sundance in the last 10 years have come through the native program.

I must say the work AWARD school is doing to create more Indigenous people into the industry has been fantastic and growing interest everyday.

Yet we are still have a way to go in here.

What gives me a lot of satisfaction is that brands are now asking for more accountability from their agency, social purpose, gender equality, well thought out work is now just as important as the margins and the to market strategies. Some brands are now asking for more representation of Indigenous people within the agencies, which is great, however I would like all major brands to start asking these questions as well, and if they have no representation of Indigenous people ( and quite a lot don’t ) then ask to see their pathways program and goals for hiring more.

I applaud everyone for the awareness and changes that have been made in addressing the gap with gender inequality and continuing to address it. I would like to see this same amount of passion and dedication into hiring Indigenous creative people and developing a workforce that truly represents all facets of Australian life.

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Peter Kirk Pluto Media

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