Dentsu Aegis’ &Proud LBGT network would have surprised those gorillas

Once upon a time there was something called The Media Department, not any old media department but a division of a quoted advertising cum marcoms company called Kimpher. This grew out of the original Kingsley Manton and Palmer.

In the pre-digital age media had a ritual: buyers (like TMD as it became) would ring up sellers, beat them up on price then repair to the pub (often with the aforementioned sellers) and everyone would be more or less mates again.

TMD became one of the first media independents in the UK and also the biggest. Its fortunes waxed as Kimpher’s waned. Its denizens were known affectionately as “gorillas with calculators.”

Fast forward a few decades and TMD was bought by Carat, the huge French media broking business set up by the Gross brothers. At one time this used to dispose of most of the commercial time and space in France. Carat went through various changes of ownership – at one point it was owned by UK ad agency WCRS – eventually to become part of quoted company Aegis (now owned by Dentsu).

But what happened to the gorillas with calculators in the meantime?

They got bigger, richer and more sophisticated of course – but remained a rumbustious crew, especially the girls who began to invade male-dominated media agency land.

But few of them would have anticipated Dentsu Aegis’ latest wheeze, &Proud, an in-house network supporting “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the company’s 3,500-strong workforce in the UK and Ireland by ensuring an inclusive and diverse culture.” Such a notion would have called for a further round of stiff drinks at the very least.

Not that the ancient denizens of media land were homophobic necessarily (some of them probably were but no more than most of the rest of the population). But they’d have found such a notion weird and, possibly, intrusive – not really what companies were about. Dentsu Aegis seems to want to commercialise &Proud too, by advising on how to reach LBGT communities.

Dentsu Aegis UK CEO Tracey De Groose says: “What makes us all different is more important than the similarities we all share. Difference is a key ingredient to a healthy, vibrant and innovative culture and I am committed to ensuring that Dentsu Aegis is a place where all of our people feel able to be their honest self at work.”

Weren’t they able to before? It’s a funny old world where you need to wear a label to be yourself. As the calculator-bearing old silverbacks might be muttering as they retreat into the jungle one last time.

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