Tuesday 2¢: What we all do matters

Watching the dreadful events unfold in the US, my Tuesday 2¢ is that we all have a responsibility to our society, especially as marketers.

One of my lockdown habits is to start the day with a cup of tea (or two), watch the news, and plan my day. Today, as it’s Tuesday I was thinking about this weekly post, some hopefully lighthearted observation about life and marketing.

Well, with the news out of the US, I’m not feeling it.

As the pandemic has dragged on, I’ve been a bit quieter on social, but this feeling is heightened with what is happening in the US. It feels like time for other voices, not mine. You know the ones that know what they are talking about.

There is also a fear of putting your hand up right now. Either seeming insensitive to what’s happening or being seen to be “woke washing” yourself and appropriating something that’s not yours, especially if you are a middle-aged, bald white guy.

Like me.

Maybe we stay quiet, it’s not our fight.

But, that’s not the right thing to do, black lives matter and we all matter in what we do to shape the world we all live in and the context of our society. As marketers and communicators, especially, we play a significant role in shaping the world and culture we all experience.

For example, somewhere there is a copyrighter that in 2012 wrote: “normal to dark skin” for Dove, presumably a creative director that gave it the nod, an account man that set up the client meeting, a client team that approved the work and a designer that created the product label (it’s not just in the ads, it’s on the product).

It passed through many hands and minds who failed to notice the suggestion that being dark was not normal.

In 2012.

Not in the 1970s when I was a kid, and we called the colored pencil that matches my skin “skin color” as we knew no better, we were children 40 years ago.

Last year, on Rockstar CMO, we put together an issue called The People are People Issue that focused on diversity.

I guess you could look at this post as a shill for some linky love to Rockstar CMO, that I am cynically using the situation to “news jack” as the cool kids might say, or probably don’t say anymore.

But, I’m proud of that issue. I enjoyed the interviews; we captured a lot of voices and perspectives and, in our small way, hopefully, shared a bit of understanding, and I genuinely encourage you to read it.

And yes, I am in the UK, but what happens in the US is very relatable, having spent a chunk of time living there.

I am about to sit around the dining table with my mixed-race children and my wonderful black wife. We try and make sense of what we are seeing in our former adopted home, and I wonder what they could have experienced if we were still there.

My point is in what we do, from that Dove copywriter to whatever it is you do, what we all do matters.

We need to take that responsibility.

As an aside – throughout the pandemic, I’ve been reading Steve Waddington’s blog, (he’s the MD of Metia UK, an agency where I have some chums). I like his writing. In his blog today, he looked even further back than I have and simply reproduced the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech in full from 60 years ago. Worth a read.

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