When diversity doesn’t work

While a diversity of voices in the advertising industry is a necessity, a diversity of talent in other ways may be a hindrance to making great work, argues our ad correspondent Ben Kay

These days we often hear the word diversity as a shorthand for the idea of hiring underrepresented people from a wide variety of backgrounds. And that’s great: the more voices we have in the business, the more people we can appeal to, and the more effective our work will be.

But as an overall principle of operation, diversity of other elements of the business may have created more problems than its solved.

Take media, for instance. Back in the 1990s there was only press, poster, TV and radio (and a touch of ambient scamming for the award books). Now there’s social, banners, preroll, Instagram Stories, carousels, Twitter hashtags, mobile, AR, VR, email blasts and many more.

On one side you might argue that this multiplicity of channels has given us a multiplicity of opportunities to shine, but it doesn’t seem to have turned out that way. Try to name a great example of advertising in one of the new media spaces that you’ve seen in the real world. I can come up with Geico’s Unskippable preroll ads from a few years ago, and a few funny tweets from fast food restaurants, although I struggle to recall the details.