Why we're backing BRiM: adland needs meaningful action on black representation
A view from Caroline Foster Kenny, San Sharma & Tahira Taylor

Why we're backing BRiM: adland needs meaningful action on black representation

Three members of Wunderman Thompson each explain why they are supporting BRiM, the new UK ad industry initiative to improve black representation in the industry.

BRiM, Black Representation in Marketing, officially launched at the start of May with an ambition to drive change and improve representation in advertising for black people both on and off camera.

The initiative provides a framework for change available for free to all companies in the industry via its website and is backed by many leading companies from Facebook to Unilever.

Wunderman Thompson has been involved in the creative for BRiM and three members of the agency each offer a view here about why they want to be involved and what they hope the initiative will achieve:

Caroline Foster Kenny

Global chief client officer

Have you heard about BRiM? If not, you need to. BRiM, a new cross-industry initiative, was created to turn good intentions into meaningful action and bring about faster change in Black Representation in Marketing.

As a leader who has worked in this industry for over three decades, I know that it’s incumbent on me to drive change. BRiM has the potential to be a mighty catalyst for change, but only if every one of us takes responsibility and holds ourselves to account.

BRiM is designed to bring more black people into the industry, remove the barriers that privilege white people and enable more black people to thrive in senior positions. 

It’s also created to ensure black people are fairly represented in the marketing our industry produces. Its framework provides tools and practical how-to guides to move us forward and take away any of those challenges that have held us back, focusing on how we are more inclusive and have better equity, both behind the camera, as well as in front of it. 

For me, the real beauty of the BRiM framework, and the reason it’s so significant, is that it can be used by anyone, whatever your role, giving it the potential to create real, faster change. But for that potential to be realised, active allyship is required from all of us. 

BRiM is not an initiative to be passed to HR Teams, internal diversity and inclusion groups, or left for our black colleagues to push forward, it needs each and all of us to champion and own the change. There is no need for you to wait for your organisations to get involved and figure it out. You, as an individual, can access the BRiM framework and instantly start applying it.

I’m proud to have been part of BRiM’s inception and that Wunderman Thompson is “all in”. As well as working through the application of the framework across our own business, our team was behind BRiM’s launch campaign. 

We learnt a huge amount in its creation by putting the framework in play. That also involved dealing with challenges and having to stop, evaluate and course-correct along the way but that’s why this framework is so effective.

San Sharma

Associate creative director, who worked on the creative for the campaign

I’ve experienced racism myself as a brown person and I champion diversity. But because I’m not black I felt conflicted as creative lead on the launch campaign for BRiM. I had to examine how I could fairly represent the black community and ensure black voices are heard in the creative process.

I worked with creative team Alex Jones and Emily Walker and we came up with the idea to channel the frustration of black marketers and consumers into a creative expression that drives action. The idea initially came from Alex, who is black and drew inspiration from his own personal experiences.

We also consulted BRiM’s advisory board, which includes black industry professionals and experts on diversity, as well as Wunderman Thompson’s own "Roots" employee resource group. It was the personal experience of black talent, the guidance from black industry professionals, and the insights from our Roots community that gave our campaign authenticity.

My advice for creatives developing campaigns for or about people that don’t look like you or share your experiences is to get in touch with those communities at the start of the creative process. As the BRiM framework says, ensure diverse opinions are baked in from the start.

Tahira Taylor

Global corporate strategy director

As I reflect on my career, I don’t remember ever having black colleagues at work or even on the path that led to me choosing marketing as a profession.

The problem is largely attrition, but that attrition is made worse due to the low numbers of black individuals who might be choosing marketing in the first place. In order to address the lack of black representation in marketing, we must first ask ourselves: what can we do to encourage black people to choose this industry? And then we need to ask what we can do to get them to stay.

So often I’ve looked at the people at the top, mostly white men, and thought to myself, I’ll never get there. Not because I can’t do it, but because tacitly I’m not welcome. BRiM presents itself as a very overt invitation. It’s significant and for that I’m grateful and excited to keep climbing and incentivised to carry my community up with me.

I implore the industry to keep putting faces like mine on television and faces like mine will grow up wanting to help you do it. They will feel more encouraged to study this craft and ultimately choose this industry.”

Today, every person needs to be a catalyst, particularly in our industry, which never, ever stands still. We need to spark and drive change, both in the way we work with our clients and in our own organisations. 

I’m in no doubt that BRiM can be the catalyst we need it to be, but its success depends upon on each of us stepping up.