Standing up for inclusion in events
Inclusion and brands are the key drivers of success, writes Jeremy King
In a crowded marketplace, which shows no sign of abating this year, people often ask me and the team what makes the Festival of Media different from all of the other events in the sector. It’s a fairly easy answer as we ensure brands and inclusion at our heart, but it’s one that requires some key storytelling and context.
So here goes…
Four years ago I embarked on a journey at Festival of Media and M&M Global with one mission – to reinvigorate its content offering. A quick look at the previous agendas and it was clear to see we had reached a plateau of middle-aged English speaking white men dominating the stages with content, which was either stuck in the past, or too far in the future to be relevant. From the research it also became clear the agendas were being digested and enjoyed by brands more than anyone else.
It was then that I embarked on a journey to ensure the Festivals content was heavily influenced by brands and answered their media needs and that most importantly it began to represent society, but of course it has not been without its challenges, criticisms and struggles.
Even three years ago while interviewing one of my favourite interviewees and one of the industry most inspiring characters – Lindsay Pattison – she was not shy on stage in saying there were not enough females on the agenda. It was also that year that we held our first inclusion session discussing gender, LGBT, ethnicity, disability and culture, and three quarters of the audience walked out before it even started.
However, I was determined not to let this issue drop and 2016 and 2017 saw a significant increase in inclusivity on the agenda, on the awards judging panel and in the overall delegate experience. We even had more than 350 people stay and watch the two inclusion sessions we curated with the wonderful Sam Phillips from OMG- admittedly I did say from the stage that I would name and shame any middle-aged white men who left the audience – but even they were captivated and engrossed in the discussions.
Fast forward to June 2017 when I became CEO and I devised a new mission and strategy for the company, which is to have inclusion and brands at the heart of everything we do.
This includes our own company culture and employees, and our team of 15 includes just four males, but most importantly represents countries from Pakistan and Nigeria to Spain and Germany.
So as well redefining purposeful media we will be opening this year’s Festival of Media Global agenda with a blind and inspirational speaker, the worlds first human cyborg and the global CMOs and media directors brands including Adidas, Danone, L’Oreal, Deutsche Telekom, VW, Unilever and P&G.
We have also created a the Inclusion Awards for our Festival of Media Global awards programme whereby we hope to showcase the world – however big or small – that is taking place in media to ensure companies, services and campaigns begin to truly represent society.
What I am really trying to say is it’s time to turn the talk into action and at Festival of Media that is exactly what we are trying to do whether it works or not, but at least we are standing for something…
This article originally appeared on mandmglobal.com.