Casting is adland’s “dirty secret” says We Are Pi chief

Cannes Lions is doing its virtual bit and one of the topics – inevitably – is black representation in the ad industry. Here’s CEO of We Are Pi Alex Bennett-Grant with a taste.

Bennett-Grant reckons casting is a particular problem:

94% of those surveyed (We Are Pi’s sample of 500) believe the ad industry needs to take action on racist decision-making in the casting process.

52% surveyed were shut down or ignored when they tried to take action on what they believed was racist decision-making.

70% feel they do not have a safe space at work to share and discuss topics of racism and discrimination.

He says: “Brands have been called out for talking fast in support of BLM (black Lives Matter), while acting slow on system change to stop anti-black practices. We can’t stand back and expect the advertising industry to change because we wish it. It’s time for action. I am inviting the industry to pledge a stop to anti-black casting practices.”

On the face of it, in UK ads anyway, there seem to be far more black faces than ever before (telling in its way of course) although they tend to be for what we might term down-market brands, supermarkets for example. In more white collar efforts they’re more scarce. It’s not so long ago that (black) Howard from the Halifax became a nationwide celebrity.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.