Despite the challenges and horrors of 2020, one welcome aspect of this annus horribilis is that diversity and inclusion remain a key focus for many companies and agencies.
For example, MediaCom has announced what it calls its "Inclusive Planning" initiative.
The initiative will be at the heart of all planning decisions the agency's teams make. It is essentially a pledge to shift its media planning approach to always focus on diverse audiences in a bid to help brands better communicate with audiences.
MediaCom has set out its commitment very simply and clearly, while acknowledging that this is a "departure from the status quo", as the industry will often only consider diverse audiences for specialist briefs, and to coincide with certain religious celebrations or cultural events.
This is a situation which has been reaching a boiling point over recent years. Brands have been called out for 'pinkwashing' during Pride month, for example, and of jumping on various band wagons without speaking up all year round or doing much more than changing their logo or creating a one-off piece of content.
In practice, for MediaCom, it means that the planning teams will be required to think about how to work with clients to make briefs more inclusive, identify gaps within a brand's audiences and connect with more inclusive partners. The agency says it will work closely with a range of external 'cultural consultants' that engage audiences the agency doesn't purport to inherently understand. They want this approach to have an impact on everything from the brief to the creative output.
We really welcome this news, and hope it is an approach that more and more agencies and companies will adopt if they haven't already.
Inclusive Planning will ensure that the work we do truly reflects the diverse population of this country, ensuring advertising is relevant and effective. This isn't just something we will do in preparation for cultural events or religious celebrations, it will be embedded into the way we work across all briefs and integral to growth opportunities for our brands. - Claire McAlpine, joint head of social change hub, MediaCom