Call for adland to prioritise mental health with Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct

Sign-ups include IPA, Nabs and ISBA.

Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct: initiative created by Social & Local
Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct: initiative created by Social & Local

Industry bodies including the IPA, Nabs and ISBA have signed up to Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct, an initiative that calls on advertising and marketing leaders to better protect the mental health of their staff.

Devised by agency Social & Local, the aim of the code is to stamp out behaviours that have an adverse effect on employee wellbeing and diminish creativity in advertising.

These include long hours driven by a fear of losing your job, unrealistic demands from clients and excessive tender requirements and procurement processes.

“Poor mental wellbeing is the enemy of creativity in our industry and our goal is to eradicate practices that cause unnecessary and dangerous levels of stress in agency environments,” Stephanie Drakes, managing partner of Social & Local, said.

“We’d like the industry to sign up to it and commit to embedding its principles within organisations to create an industry where negative workplace stress is reduced, talent is retained and the UK protects its pole position in the world for creativity as clients, once again, get the best out of their agencies.”

Bodies backing the call for the advertising industry to adopt the code include The Crown Commercial Service, Alliance of Independent Agencies and the Advertising Association.

Nicky Harris, director of strategy and development at Nabs, said: “Mental health and wellbeing have never been more critical than they are now. 

“As an industry, our people are our greatest asset and if we fail to look after them, we will fail to thrive.”

Campaign’s Best Places to Work 2021 found that total calls to the Nabs Advice Line were up by 35% in 2020 (a quarter of which were calls for those needing emotional support); while calls relating to mental health accounted for 51% of all emotional support calls. 

Harris continued: “The Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct captures eight high-level principles – these actively promote and support creativity in a healthy and positive way, right across the industry. 

“If these can be embedded in our collective industry culture, then we can protect the very thing that drives us forward – employee wellbeing and creativity.” 

Brilliant Creative Minds Code of Conduct was developed through in-depth interviews with senior leaders across the client and agency worlds, such as Tom Knox, executive partner at MullenLowe Group, Adam Skinner, chief operating officer at OmniGov, and Jane Asscher, chief executive of 23Red.

Asscher said: “As an industry we make our living from communicating and we need to turn that expertise inwards and collaborate on mental health and wellbeing.

“Brilliant Creative Minds recognises that the triumvirate of client, agency and procurement holds the power to implement change and allow creativity to thrive."  

She added: “We’ve listened to the issues holding our people back and stifling their output; and this new code of conduct will help protect our talent and their world-class ideas.”

Last month, The Great Pitch Company’s Marcus Brown called on the IPA and ISBA to update their best practice new-business guide, Finding an Agency, “with urgency” to include key principles that put the welfare of people first.