A Call to Be More Adwoke

When I woke up to the election results after going to bed at midnight, pleading with the universe for a positive outcome in the morning, I felt it.

“It” is not my feeling alone, but one expressed by everyone in my social media bubble; a mix of confusion, deep sadness, disbelief and perhaps, the most cutting — powerless.

Powerless with a capital P.

Last week, I attended the 3% Conference. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a conference that not only celebrates diversity in creative leadership, but demands it. With heavy hitters like Cindy Gallop and Madonna Badger as keynote speakers among many other industry leaders, we were told that it is our onus to make changes in advertising by bringing empathy, skepticism of bad creative and a female voice to the fold.

Sitting there incensed, I felt the opposite I did this morning.

No matter which side of change you voted for, we should be able to agree that as people, the hate rhetoric needs to change.

However, many of us in the industry are guilty of proliferating messages that fan the flames of hate rhetoric.

As a leader in social media, I have to admit there are times I didn’t push back enough on lazy campaign ideas. I didn’t say no, we are not going for short term Facebook Likes instead of creating genuine messaging. I didn’t yell hard enough when I saw a team of creatives producing a “viral video” that stereotyped an ethnic group so they could sell more tortilla chips.

But I can now. We are leaders at the helm of an industry that creates messages en mass. We don’t have to settle or stay quiet when we see bad creative. It is our job to make our clients feel uncomfortable, to bring them down routes that push them. Not just so we can sleep at night, but for the benefit of their bottom lines because diverse creative statistically proves ROI.

I sent a letter to my own team today that empowered them to speak up when they see bad creative, to push back when we are generalizing, stereotyping, homogenizing, and sexualizing. I ask you as leaders in our industry to do the same.

Let your teams know that it’s on all of us to stand for work we are proud of, now more than ever. Especially if they are a minority voice.

The only way to not feel powerless is to control the things you know you can. I am not a writer or an activist. But I am a marketeer and it’s my job be the best one I can be.

If America is going to be great again, let’s use our platforms to represent voices who don’t always get to be heard.

Let’s push envelopes and be more conscious doing it.