As most of us try to get used to the new realities of working remotely and, in some cases, in isolation, it’s important to think of the positive contribution that the industry – which is facing unprecedented but not insurmountable challenges – makes.
Yes, there are still some monstrous egos; some vulgar displays of wealth; a number of abhorrent working practices; and, at times, an overwhelming sense of advertising’s own importance and self-righteousness. The famous bubble is never that far away. But there is also, at its best, kindness and humanity – a sense of optimism and a desire to try to achieve a better world. And at no time in recent history have these virtues felt more important.
As each of us try to go about business as normal as we possibly can, I’m sure that we all feel an enhanced responsibility to those more vulnerable than ourselves – whether that is elderly family or neighbours, the sick or the poor. It’s where true purpose really lies, beyond a leaden brand promise or clunky attempt to pretend that brands really are a force for social good and not, primarily, a means for profit.
It was particularly heartening, then, to see two agencies – Lucky Generals and Atomic London – going over and above to encourage people from different socioeconomic backgrounds to join the industry by providing accommodation and assistance to help them settle in London. A principle is not a principle unless it costs you something – and both have dug deeper into their pockets than most to encourage the best who may not have the same social advantages as others to join. These being uncertain economic times, the cost looks greater still and therefore the principle is one that we all should admire and seek to emulate when times are better.
One correspondent to this magazine infamously wrote that he was "sick of diversity". At times, I find myself sick of reading about diversity, not because the principle isn’t a vital one but because the motives in the pieces are sometimes cynical. How many agencies prefer to use their money to pay ghostwriters to confect outrage on their behalf rather than invest more in doing something concrete to help achieve it? Too many, I expect. So hats doffed to Lucky Generals and Atomic in particular.
And, at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll all start to drift back to work. And despite our previous moaning about being office-bound, we’ll appreciate that isolation isn’t splendid and be much more grateful what we have been missing. Maybe not the actual employer, but the sense of community, support and diversity of thought – and fun – that comes from working with colleagues from different backgrounds and with different life experiences. Lucky Generals and Atomic should be further enriched by their recent initiatives.