The Drum Awards for Marketing - Extended Entry Deadline

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By The Drum Team | Editorial

July 7, 2022 | 4 min read

In partnership with The Drum, the 4A’s created a content series titled 'Convene. Challenge. Change.' As part of the series, 4A’s president and chief executive officer Marla Kaplowitz will lead a discussion with an agency leader and one of their marketing partners to discuss challenges, opportunities and new ways of working in a post Covid-19 environment. The series will also challenge norms, identify learnings and inspire actions that will create new standards to help drive the industry forward.

In series' fourth episode, Kaplowitz sits down at the Cannes Lions festival with Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer of Unilever, and Justin Thomas-Copeland, president and CEO of DDB North America, to discuss how diversity and creativity intersect and how this is reflected in their client-agency partnership.

Kaplowitz kicks off the conversation by asking them both to reflect on the importance of diversity as it relates to talent, creativity, and inclusion within the advertising and marketing industry.

“There is a big gap with how we represent women, men, races, ethnicities, religion, disabilities, and sexual orientation,” says Santos. “Every angle that you look, we’re still not representing the reality as it is. This is going to end when we start having not only representation within advertising, but with agencies and clients. They are to mirror the society that we serve.”

Thomas-Copeland expands further on Santos’ thoughts and how clients should show up for their agencies. “People want a different world, they want an inclusive world, and they want to be a part of brands and communities that represent them,” says Thomas-Copeland. “They want purpose. As an industry, with our clients we have to step up to that challenge and we should be really motivated by that. I think we should be inspired by that; I don't think that we should be fearful.”

When asked about how Unilever’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion has changed over the years, Santos attributes it to a mix of her progressive leadership style and data to understand what needed to change. “We commissioned a piece of work to understand the state of advertising around the world and across industries. We found out that we were dangerously disconnected, a staggering 40% of women were not engaging with advertising anymore,” says Santos. “We knew we needed to do something about representation, and so we started to unstereotype our work.”

Kaplowitz then asks how Thomas-Copeland spearheaded DDB’s diversity, equity and inclusion pillars and how this has impacted Unilever’s work.

“We looked at our culture. You can't PowerPoint culture, you can't brief culture, and you certainly cannot have one or two people to change the whole culture. It has got to be systemic,” says Thomas-Copeland. “We introduced what we call the 'four freedoms' to really lay down a new culture and it was really to liberate our people. Freedom from chaos, freedom to be, freedom from failure, and freedom from fear. We wrote them in a behavioral sense, and we wanted new behaviors to be established so that it would be systemic.”

As for how DDB took this and infused into their work with Unilever, “I would say the ‘No is Beautiful’ piece of work that was focused on insight around women – 86% of women believe that they have to do it all and have to be in control of everything,” he adds. “The piece of work focused on instead of saying yes all the time, women were saying no and feeling good about it. In the study, two-thirds of women felt that if they said no, it would be of real detriment to their lives and livelihoods. The idea was really simple, we would elevate and beautify the experience of saying no.”

When Kaplowitz asked about the strengths of their partnership, Santos nods to Cannes Lions as a reason why convening is still relevant and necessary. “It’s so important to be here physically in Cannes Lions,” says Santos. “To have dinner together, to laugh, to celebrate, and to create bonds that are so important because in the day-to-day you need that bond, it makes a big difference.”

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