Channel 4 marketing chief: Justin, diversity is a solution not a problem
A view from Dan Brooke

Channel 4 marketing chief: Justin, diversity is a solution not a problem

M&C Saatchi's chief creative officer Justin Tindall has apologised for his comments on diversity but Channel 4's chief marketing & communications officer is not convinced.

An open letter to Justin Tindall

Good for you for apologising, for the things you say you do for others and for trying to generally set the record straight. This said, your Private View article was ignorant and ill-judged and I’m just not fully convinced by all of your reply to Caitlin Ryan either.

Your statement to her that "it was absolutely not my intention to undermine the diversity agenda in any way whatsoever. In fact, the opposite is true" is impossible for me to square with the unambiguous meaning of your original article.

It also needs to be juxtaposed with last year’s answer to Campaign’s A-List question about when the diversity debate would be over, highlighted for us so forensically by Nicola Kemp. "I have no idea", you wrote, "So I asked my Native American, transgender, strawberry blonde, gay, hard-of-hearing friend. He/she said: Please don't let the diversity debate be over. It's just so interesting to read about it every week in our industry publications". Hmmm.

My bigger beef is your description of diversity as "an issue", as if it is some kind of social problem to be put right. Countless academic studies have found what I witness on a daily basis at Channel 4: a diversity of people, and therefore of perspectives and ideas, in a work situation produces results that are more innovative, more creative and, in turn, more commercially successful.

I need look no further than the example of my former colleagues, John Allison and Chris Bovill, who have written so bravely and eloquently in Campaign’s pages about John’s disability. Under their leadership of 4Creative a hatful of pencils, lions and arrows were won, but not in spite of John’s diversity, in part because of it.

So, no, diversity is not a problem, it is a solution: a solution to business’s problem of how to be more successful. Somewhere in your original article you made a good but over-shadowed point about the waning creativity of British advertising. While I wholeheartedly share your lament, the irony of it is that a solution to this problem is the very thing you are bored with elsewhere.

Diversity is not charity work, it’s make-your-agency-more-successful work, and I do hope this experience has woken you up to that.

Yours

Dan Brooke
Chief marketing & communications officer, Channel 4