The School of Communication Arts in London has launched a clever fundraiser in these pre-Cannes days. Buy a bottle of their elitist expensive vintage bubbly, and you help raise money for scholarships to the greatest school of creativity in the world. I'm allowed to say that, I'm alumn and dropped many £pounds on this.
All over the world in advertising the hot button topic has long been about "diversity", we need more women, we need more non-white people, we need more left handed creatives. Every since I was a student well over twenty years ago, I felt that the conversation ignored money and opportunity. I was extremely fortunate in that I was able to secure state student loans, combined with work that allowed me to pay rent and school tuition abroad. I was also extremely lucky to get accepted to schools based on my portfolio alone, so my sex didn't stop me.
When it came time to begin working in London, the unpaid placement system so prevalent there kicked me right back into my moms house, because unlike the UK born, I could not sign up for the dole while toiling away on a placement couch in a London agency somewhere. I recognised immediately that what keeps the less privileged out from advertising was money. If you are wondering why everyone is of the same socio-economic class and colour and gender in advertising agencies all over the world, well that's the obvious reason.
Marc Lewis, the Dean of the current Scool of communication arts, is angry. He's frustrated, just like I am, that the dialogue about diversity in advertising consistently ignores money and opportunity. While Brian Bronaugh , President at Mullen recognises that kids need opportunity and he has set about to create that for them, most of the people discussing diversity in advertising spend their days charging people to hold speeches about it, doing nothing to change the status quo and effectively diverting funds from the possible change.
Not I. Not Mark. We know that there's talent out there, great talent that needs an assist in form of schooling, who may not be able to afford it. Talent from all walks of life, from all over the world. True diversity. But if they can't get to school, they can't get the opportunities to learn from some of the best creative minds in Europe. They won't get the chance to prove themselves at a placement in an agency somewhere in London.
So to all you ad people out there tirelessly talking - or just tweeting - about the need for diversity. Put your money where your mouth is, for once. Buy a bottle of really expensive elitist snobby champagne, which will help fund scholarships for the talented but less fortunate. It will help give opportunities to the clever kid from the wrong side of the tracks. It will place young men and women at the top agencies in London where all they have to do is roll up their sleeves and show how smart they are. If you want more diversity, stop talking, help make it happen and get your laughing gear around some bubbly.