Why being a copycat can make our industry more inclusive

Posted on Monday 22 November 2021 | Sophia Haynes - Head of Campaigns, IAB UK

In order to build a more inclusive industry, there are certain initiatives and practices that should be more widespread writes Sophia Haynes, our Director of Campaigns. This piece was first published on The Drum in August 2021

I don’t think anyone would argue with me for saying that advertising is a fiercely competitive industry – and rightly so. From the best creative ideas to innovative execution, a high premium is placed on doing things differently and standing out from the crowd. Being unoriginal goes against everything that a good ad should be and, not to sound like a six-year-old, but nobody likes a copycat.

Which leads me to something my actual six-year-old told me recently. Someone at school was copying his work and he didn’t know what to do. My instinct was to speak to the teacher and to tell him to cover his work… but then it also occurred to me that perhaps the girl who was copying him just needed some help and didn’t know who to ask.

We instinctively think of copying as a bad thing, but when it comes to building a more inclusive, more diverse and more equitable industry, my view is that we could all do with copying others a bit more. On the one hand, we need new ideas to keep driving inclusivity forwards in our industry. We need to keep challenging the status quo, breaking old rules and pushing for change. But, on the other, we also have to be willing to share our ideas, to learn from one another and (whisper it) be more of a copycat.

In order to build a more inclusive industry, there are certain initiatives and practices that should be more widespread – and it’s for this reason that we at IAB UK have worked with our members to create a new bank of case studies. ID&E in Practice showcases standout initiatives from across the digital ad industry, all of which are geared towards creating greater inclusivity and supporting diversity.

Our aim is that, by sharing these initiatives, others will be inspired to follow suit. To help encourage this, each case study provides step-by-step details of how the idea was put into practice – including the resources required, who was involved, how to ensure the effectiveness of the project and actionable advice on how to achieve the same.

The initiatives highlighted span – to name a few – inclusive recruitment, supporting LGBTQIA+ staff, celebrating Black History Month and improving policies supporting those going through fertility treatment and pregnancy loss. We so far have contributions from IAB UK members including Bauer Media, GameSpot, Index Exchange, LadBible Group, Lotame, Moloco, Spark Foundry, Spotify, Teads, Telegraph Media Group and Zenith.

Essentially, we want everyone to borrow from the brilliant ideas and first-hand experiences shared. The overarching aim of this initiative is that we learn from one another and inspire others to adopt similar practices. Spanning different businesses, different areas of ID&E and different budget levels, this bank of case studies is an opportunity to drive further change within our industry.

Why? Because creating a truly inclusive industry is not only the right thing to do, but the business savvy thing to do. By bringing together different experiences, backgrounds and views, creativity comes alive. So take a look, get involved and don’t be afraid to be a copycat.

If you’re an IAB UK member and you would like to submit a case study to ID&E in Practice, you can find out more here.

Written by

Sophia Haynes

Head of Campaigns, IAB UK


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