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Trevor Robinson believes ad industry is stuck in a bubble when it comes to diversity

Trevor Robinson on the diversity bubble problem faced by the ad industry

Trevor Robinson OBE, executive director and founder of Quiet Storm, has said he believes that the ad industry continues to operate with a “bubble mentality” when it comes to diversity. In a recent issue of the magazine, he told The Drum that a lack of inclusion was suffocating creativity, isolating key consumers and overlooking valuable employees.

The biggest downside of this mentality – and what Robinson calls his “greatest source of anger” – is the industry’s “obsession” with familiarity and playing it safe.

Despite making up around 45.8% of the UK population, working-class people are poorly represented in the advertising workforce, Robinson points out, making it easy to spot an ad that just doesn’t ‘get’ its audience.

“Overall, people in this industry are very far from their target audience. And the longer they stay in the industry the further away they get, which reinforces a bubble mentality.”

Robinson also insisted that if brands wanted their target audience to be on their side, they needed to have them on their team.

In his opinion, expanding the bubble is not enough – it’s time agencies found the edge to burst it. “Go further than thinking of recruiting more women or more black people and also start thinking about how to find the right personalities with sufficient stubbornness and resilience to keep coming back.”

The tendency to falsely relate with audiences by replaying day-to-day experiences and relaying raw emotion without injecting a bit of humour or returning power to the viewer is a phenomenon which Robinson considers a byproduct of ‘the bubble’.

He referenced Quiet Storm’s film 'Torture By Any Other Name' for the Helen Bamber Foundation, which campaigns against human trafficking as an example of advertisement “powered by anger rather than simply playing back pure anger itself”.

Quiet Storm, Robinson said, not only looks for talent but diversity, aiming to disrupt this sense of security that he views as counterproductive in most other agencies.

This piece is a summary of a feature that ran in The Drum's Anger Issue, which also featured viewpoints from creatives such as Trevor Beattie, John Lydon, Heidi Hackemer and includes features examining the #Blacklivesmatter movement and whether or not anger is a positive or negative emotion.

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